LEIGH have signed Castleford youngster Ben Reynolds - joint winner of the Kingstone Press Championship One Player of the Year - for 2015.
Reynolds will link up with the Centurions on a full-time contract in time for the start of preseason training in November.
The goal-kicking 20-year-old full-back or half-back has enjoyed a fine 2014 season, making two Super League appearances for Castleford and impressing on a dual registration contract with Kingstone Press Championship One League Leaders York City Knights.
Reynolds was joint Championship One Young Player of the Year alongside City Knights team-mate James Saltonstall, was one of the nominations for Championship One Player of the Year won by York team-mate Jack Lee and also selected in the Championship One All Star team. He scored seven tries and kicked 67 goals in 16 appearances for York during the season.
A former Knottingley and Featherstone Lions ARL product, Reynolds graduated through the ranks of the Castleford Tigers Academy and has been training full-time with the Tigers’ first-team squad since November 2012.
“I’m excited, really excited, to be coming to Leigh,” Reynolds said. “It’s a great club and a great move for me and a big stepping stone in my career. I loved it at York, they were a great set of lads but I’m looking to move forward and play at the best standard I can. I’ve been on a massive learning curve at Castleford and then during my time with York and I want to continue my progress.
“I’m really excited also at the prospect of linking up again with Ryan Brierley, who I played alongside in the Under-20s at Castleford, when I was only 17. If I can go some way to emulating the achievements of Ryan since he has joined Leigh I’ll be well pleased. I’d like to thank Daryl Powell and everyone as Castleford Tigers for making this move possible.”
Leigh Centurions head coach Paul Rowley said: “We already have the Championship Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year in Martyn Ridyard and Ryan Brierley respectively and so to add to our squad the joint Championship One Young Player of the Year is a big statement of our intent as a club.
“Ben is a great young player with the potential to go a lot further in the game and he fits the profile of player we want to add to our squad. He plays in a pivotal role and we have kept close tabs on him since he was outstanding playing for York against our Reserves side earlier this season. He adds cover and competition in two key positions and we are delighted to have secured his services for the 2015 season.”
Leigh Centurions head of rugby Derek Beaumont said: “Ben is a player I was immediately attracted to when York played our reserves arly in the season in a friendly game. He completely dominated the play from a pivotal role, had a great kicking game and showed lots of fire in his belly. I watched the game from the back of the sticks with Paul and Neil (Jukes) at the Leigh East pavilion where we gave Ben a bit of stick, only for him to give us twice as much back, which I felt spoke volumes for his character.
“We were all suitably impressed and kept tabs on his progress during the season where he was regularly the MOTM for York, always scoring highly in the trade press and featuring in every write- up. He made two first grade appearances for Castleford, against Wigan and Warrington from fullback in games where Castleford were somewhat below full strength, making it difficult for him to gain any momentum, but there was enough there to tell us we are right in our vision for him.
“I would like to thank Castleford and Daryl Powell for agreeing to allow Ben to progress while being able to keep tabs on him to some extent. Castleford have retained the right to have an option with Ben at the end of the 2015 season in order to protect their investment and interest in the player. It’s always the measure of a club that does things in the best interests of the player progressing and having been Young Player of the Year in Championship One it is a natural progression for Ben to join our ranks and continue his evolvement into a Super League player.
“I am really looking forward to seeing him fit into our set-up and showing our fans what he is capable of.”