Sharp ‘totally understands’ decision to loan players to Bradford

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I understand the philosophy behind it."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I understand the philosophy behind it."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp says he “totally understands” Leeds Rhinos’ decision to loan players to Rovers’ Championship rivals Bradford Bulls.

Rhinos half-back Jordan Lilley, hooker Sam Hallas, second-rower Josh Jordan-Roberts and prop Mikolaj Oledzki have all joined Bulls on an initial one-month deal and are available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship opener at Hull Kingston Rovers.

The loans - particularly of Lilley, who made 24 appearances for Rhinos last year and also played three times on dual-registration with Rovers - will strengthen Bulls, who this week announced a squad of just 20 signed-on players.

Rovers - who visit Halifax in Championship round one this weekend - have a dual-registration agreement with Rhinos, but Sharp insisted their noses have not been put out of joint by the move.

He said: “First and foremost, we have a really healthy and positive relationship with Leeds and we feel the benefit of that every week.

“Coming into the game against Halifax we will see some dual-reg’ players running out with us.

“With regards to the loan of four players to Bradford, I think the talking point is Jordan Lilley and what happens with him.

“For me, I totally understand it. I understand the philosophy behind it and I think the goodwill from (Rhinos chief executive) Gary Hetherington is plain to see.”

Sharp added: “Gary has always been an advocate of a strong game and been very supportive of some of the weaker clubs, which is not being disrespectful to Bradford. I get it, I fully understand that it’s an outstanding opportunity for some of the players who’ve gone there and for Jordan it is chance to play some first team football, which I think he needs.