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Ex England U20 wing on one-month trial with rugby league giants

By Josh Raisey
Josh Gillespie of Northampton Saints looks on during the Premiership Rugby Cup match between Harlequins and Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stoop on November 19, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Northampton Saints wing Josh Gillespie has joined eight-time Super League winners Leeds Rhinos on a one-month trial.

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The 23-year-old is poised to make his first appearance in rugby league on Saturday for the Rhinos’ reserves against Leigh Leopards, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post. 

Having made his debut for the Saints as an 18-year-old, becoming the club’s youngest player of the professional era at the time, Gillespie left Franklin’s Gardens in the summer of 2022, and spent last season in the Championship with Ealing Trailfinders.

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The Australian-born back featured for England U20 in the 2020 Six Nations, but only earned a handful of appearances in the Gallagher Premiership. His move to rugby league coincides with the start of the new Super League season, where only three rounds have elapsed with Leeds winning two of their opening three fixtures.

This is not the first time that Leeds have looked to rugby union for new talent over the past few months, with former Harlequins and Bath prop Lewis Boyce joining the club on a preseason trial at the end of 2023. However, a transfer did not materialise from that trial.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Gillespie said: “Luckily, they were willing to give me a go. I am here for a month’s trial, I’ll play a few reserves games and see where it goes from there.”

“It has gone really good so far. The first few days I was just trying to get to know everyone, it was quite overwhelming, trying to get to know all the names.

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“I am nearly there with all the players and the coaches have been really helpful with getting me up to scratch. They know there’s going to be things I don’t know, having not grown up in league, but by the time I got to last Friday I felt really into it and hopefully I am not making too many mistakes.”

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