DEWSBURY RAMS have secured another signing on the eve of the new season with the addition of young hooker Harvey Whiteley.
The 20-year-old came through the Leeds Rhinos academy and played one game in Super League in 2017, but wasn’t offered a senior contract at the end of last season.
He has now joined the Rams, but having only just started in training again following four months out of the game, he is unlikely to make his debut in this weekend’s Championship season opener at Rochdale Hornets.
On signing for the club, Whiteley said: “I am excited to just get out on the pitch again. I have had a couple of months out, but now I am excited to get back training and playing.
“Hopefully all that I have learnt will help me this year, from every skill I have learnt from the amateur game to the academy game and now here.
“I haven’t really played against men before except for a short stint in a Super League game for Leeds against Wigan, so it is the next step in my career.”
Whiteley was coached by Rob Burrow in the academy, and there are similarities in both stature and style with the Rhinos legend.
“I like to be nippy around the rook and I have learnt a lot from the likes of Rob Burrow and my old coaches,” Whiteley said. “Whenever the markers are down, I just scoot straight away.
“I am not a selfish player and I like playing for my team when there is a good environment, and I like defending. I don’t mind getting stuck in, even for a little lad like me.
“Any blips in their back line and I am straight over to score. I have scored quite a few tries just from diving over the line and spotting some weak defenders.
“I like being a leader. I captained the academy side I was in and I got us to the Grand Final, but I hope to lead on the pitch.”
On the new signing, head coach Lee Greenwood added: “I am pleased to bring in Harvey who is another young hungry player who wants to do well at this club.”
Whiteley is the 19th new player to sign a deal with the Rams for 2019, as Greenwood looks to build a squad capable of matching the three consecutive eighth-place finishes under his predecessors.
Their Betfred Championship campaign begins with the trip to the Crown Oil Arena to face Rochdale on Sunday (February 3, kick-off 3pm).
The Hornets narrowly escaped the drop last season, with an 11th-place finish sufficient thanks to the late change in league structure, but have been widely tipped for relegation this time around.
Like Dewsbury, they have a new boss in place with Carl Forster joining from Whitehaven in the off-season, and the player-coach is among 15 new names in the squad.
For the Rams, Liam Johnson, Martyn Reilly and Harvey Hallas remain absentees, while hooker Robbie Ward serves the second match of a two-game suspension.