20 Jun 2024

Academy Spotlight: George Brown

Although he might be one of the Academy's newest additions, half back George Brown is well versed in the youth system at Leeds Rhinos.

The former Dewsbury Celtic player was first picked up by the club's Scholarship programme as an Under-14 but opted to play Rugby Union with Yorkshire at the start of 2024. As the season came to a close, he returned to Leeds and marked his first Academy appearance with four tries against Wakefield.

Speaking about life back at the Rhinos, Brown said: "With how the lads have been, it's been easy for me to transition, Coming into the side off a full union season, it's been quite easy getting back into it. I've been back to full fitness, but it's been getting back into the rhythm really good so we'll see how that plays out. 

"Having played together with some of the lads in the Under-16s, you have a bit of chemistry already. It makes it easier to play alongside each other when you know how each other play. While I've been here, we've had ups and downs, but it'll be good to get back into rhythm, win some games and have a mentality of going out and winning the rest of our games."

Rhinos Academy head coach Tony Smith has been unafraid to feature some of his youngest talents over the course of the season, which showed when trio Jayemm Oladipupo, Marcus Qareqare and Presley Cassell all earned a place in Paul Anderson's England Academy squad last week. Brown is the latest player to show potential, and Smith has given the youngster opportunities to develop outside of the Academy as he featured for the Reserves last week.

"It makes it more challenging in the Academy or Reserves," he said. "You've got to change how you play, but you can't run or score every time so you've got to adapt to it. I'm probably more of a running halfback to be honest, but obviously I'm trying to make my game so I can do a bit of both, Depending on what kind of game it is, if it's more of a slow game, I can play with the hands, but if there's a bit of pace behind us then I'll be able to run and use that.

"Playing Reserves was a good test. It shows you what the levels are and that you need to keep improving. You need to get better and better every time so it was a good test to see where the benchmark is at the next step as well."

Brown and the Under-18s utilised three weeks without a fixture as they reset going into the second half of their season. Their final six games begins this Friday as the young Rhinos host Huddersfield Giants before the men's Super League clash between Leeds and Leigh. As the game marks global MND Awareness Day and allows fans to come together after the passing of Rob Burrow CBE, who coached the Rhinos Academy in 2018 and 2019, Brown has said that the Leeds great provides all the motivation for this year's Under-18s team.

"I've always been a Leeds fan, and watched Rob play," he said. "Deep down, that's who we're playing for. We've got to represent him as that's what the night is for. We've got to turn up, do your best and try and perform. I think everyone at the club has felt the passing of Rob. Rob was part of this team himself, so it's good to be in the same process that he was, and it shows that it does go a long way further on in your career.

"I think everyone's had time to refresh, but it's back to business now. It's about getting back into a good rhythm and trying to win some games. That week off lets you look back on the games that have gone, forget about the bad things and focus on the positives so we're ready to go again on Friday."

The Rhinos Academy kick off at 5.10pm at AMT Headingley against Huddersfield Giants.

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