Rohan Smith explains the decision to let talented youngster leave Leeds Rhinos

WITH a great deal of recruitment and retention being done at Leeds Rhinos in the off-season, head coach Rohan Smith is now stamping his authority on the club after taking over during 2022.

One decision that took people by surprise last week, however, was the news that Levi Edwards had been allowed to leave Headingley and join the York Knights on a three-year deal.

Edwards, who had played most of pre-season for the Rhinos, had joined York on loan during 2022, scoring four tries in 11 appearances.

The 19-year-old has been a part of the Leeds club since he was 16 and was expected to break through into the Leeds first-team in 2023.

However, Leeds boss Smith has revealed why Edwards was allowed to leave, citing the competition for places in the outside backs and the desire to let the teenager get much-needed game time elsewhere.

“Levi and I had a good conversation,” Smith told League Express. “He’s had a pretty good pre-season, he’s trained really hard and he’s worked on himself as both a player and a person.

“But, we feel we’ve got a really strong outside back unit, with some young players who are perhaps ahead of Levi right now and a bunch of very experienced players.

“There were a few players in front of him and I don’t like to keep people stuck behind others when they could opportunities elsewhere.

“Levi has had a couple of years of being out on loan and he thought it was best to take on a permanent opportunity where he could really entrench himself into the York group and York made an enquiry about him.

“He’ll be under a really good coach in Hendo (Andrew Henderson) at York which will let him get to the next level.”

Smith also confirmed that fellow youngster Max Simpson will be out for the entire 2023 season following a knee injury.