Leeds Rhinos have announced that they have agreed new three and four-year contracts with Academy players Jack Walker, 17, and Alex Sutcliffe, 18, that will keep both at Headingley Carnegie at least until the end of the 2020 and 2021 Betfred Super League season respectively.
Walker has now signed the contract which was offered to him earlier in the season and he will be included in the Rhinos 25-man first team squad for 2018 whilst Sutcliffe, who made his first team debut recently in the defeat at Wigan a fortnight ago, has also committed his long-term future to the club.
Both former Oulton Raiders youngsters have emerged from the Rhinos Academy this year to play for their home town club.
Commenting on his new deal, Walker said: "I know there has been a lot of speculation and I just wanted to make sure I was making the right call in committing for the next three-years.
"I'm really happy things have been finalised and becoming a full-time player with my home town club and this group of players is a dream come true for me.”
Sutcliffe added: "It has always been a dream of mine to play for the Rhinos since I was young and it is a dream come true. Having made my debut now, I want to strive even harder to be in the squad again in the future having had that experience.
"I know I need to keep working hard with the Under 19s in the gym and develop my skills with Under 19s coaches Adrian Morley and Jonny Wainhouse to get that chance. This new contract feels like a reward for the work I have done already and I can't wait to get started.
"It is good to know there is a group of us coming through the Academy ranks together with some familiar faces, it is nice to be part of something with my pals and to know we are part of the club's plans.”
Jack Walker, 17 years old, Leeds Rhinos debut, scores a first half hat-trick 🙌 pic.twitter.com/x7Nmq0chHz— The Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) April 22, 2017
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, "Alex and Jack are very talented young players who have come through our youth system. They have the potential to make their mark in the game.
"Alex has done well for our Under 19s this season and will have benefitted from his first team debut a fortnight ago. Jack has stated his commitment to the club and his desire to progress through to and into our First Team and he now has the opportunity.”
19/07: Jack Walker rejects full-time Leeds contract— PA Sport (@pasport) August 3, 2017
3/08: Young full-back signs three-year deal
Great news for Rhinos fans to wake up to pic.twitter.com/DGbpRirq40
Head Coach Brian McDermott added, "As a club we have always stated our commitment to developing our youngsters both as players and, perhaps more importantly, as people as well. Alex and Jack have both been involved in the first team this season and have seen first-hand the hard work, commitment and dedication it takes to succeed at the very top of the game.
"They are both setting out on their professional journey and the opportunity is there for them to follow in the footsteps of the many Academy graduates who have gone on to be Champions at this club.
"The common factor between all academy players who progress into regular first-team players is that they share a comment trait based on the philosophy of 'what can I do for the club' rather than 'what can the club do for me'.
"The challenge for all young players is to grab that chance with both hands and do everything possible to be part of that elite group and hopefully Jack and Alex can do that now.”