Rhinos agree to release duo
Burgess and Cross given permission to quit Headingley
Last Updated: June 20, 2011 4:47pm
Burgess: heading to join his brothers in the NRL
Leeds Rhinos have agreed to release props Luke Burgess and Ben Cross from the remainder of their contracts with immediate effect.
Both players were granted permission to talk to other clubs about their futures last week, with Leeds then willing to let them go out on loan.
However, the Rhinos have now reached an agreement to release the duo with both expected to head to Australia.
Burgess - whose brothers Ben and George play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs - has confirmed he already has an offer on the table to join his siblings in the NRL.
"I would like to thank the club for agreeing to release me from my contract to enable me to take up this opportunity," Burgess told the club's official website.
Fufilling a dream
"I am moving on to pastures new, I have always spoken of my desire to test myself in the NRL and I now have an opportunity to fulfil that dream."
Burgess came through the club's youth academy and won a Grand Final with the Rhinos in 2009.
Australian Cross joined Leeds last winter from NRL outfit Newcastle Knights but has failed to make much impact at Headingley.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington stated: "We have agreed to Luke's request to be released from the remainder of his contract so that he can fulfil his ambition of playing in the NRL in Australia.
"He goes with our best wishes and thanks for his outstanding service to the club down the years.
"We have also agreed to release Ben from his contract with immediate effect to enable him to pursue other opportunities."
Jones-Bishop close to return
Meanwhile, the Rhinos have confirmed that full back Ben Jones-Bishop is nearing a return to first-team action following a shoulder operation.
The 22-year-old has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Salford in March, but will make his comeback in the Rugby League Nines Festival at Featherstone on Tuesday night.