Leeds Rhinos have secured a major junior signing coup with the capture of England U18 Rugby Union international Ned McCormack.
The 18-year-old back caught the attention of Premiership Rugby Union clubs with his performances for England this season having come through the Yorkshire Academy. A pupil at Woodhouse Grove School, he has opted to turn his back on the fifteen-man code to follow his dream of playing Rugby League for his home town club, Leeds Rhinos. He has previously played junior Rugby League with Farnley Falcons.
McCormack’s younger brother, Fergie, is already a member of the Rhinos Academy, and the pair could line up alongside each other in the future now that Ned has followed in his footsteps.
Commenting on his decision, McCormack said, “I like the speed of Rugby League and I feel it suits me as a player. I am really happy with the decision to join Leeds; it is local for me and I have always wanted to represent Leeds since I was young. There have been a few Rugby Union clubs who wanted to sign me but that would involve moving away from home and I am delighted to have signed with the Rhinos.
“As an outside back, you are guaranteed to get the ball more in Rugby League and I am looking forward to making the most of those opportunities. My younger brother Fergie is already on the Rhinos books and I am looking forward to playing with him again. I want to be able to play at the best standard I can. I know I have got hard work in front of me. Headingley has a wonderful stadium, and it would be a dream to get to play there in front of the Rhinos fans. My family are delighted I have signed, my dad has been a Rhinos fan all his life, and it will be great for him to come down and support us.”
Joe Bedford, the former Leeds Carnegie Rugby Union captain and Head of Rugby at Woodhouse Grove, commented, “I have known Ned since he first started playing rugby and I am delighted for him. He has had a brilliant year with the Yorkshire Academy and at Woodhouse Grove and he could have gone on to have a great career in Rugby Union. But I am delighted for him that he has signed for the Rhinos and can give his all over the next few years. When Leeds signed Fergie, I mentioned to Rohan Smith about his older brother and the club have come down and watched him. I am delighted for them both that they have got the opportunity to play professional rugby.”
Leeds Rhinos Head of Youth John Bastian added, “Ned has got great speed and balance and is a real rugby talent. He was on a Rugby Union pathway but we have made him welcome at the Rhinos. It is great to have a club that fully supports youth development right from the top; Rohan Smith has played a part in Ned’s signing having come down and met Ned and his family. Ned will not play much rugby over the next 4 to 6 weeks as he starts a training programme in a professional environment but after that he will be ready to go and I am looking forward to seeing him in action.”