Burgess and Cross to leave Leeds after failing to make impression

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The Independent Online

Leeds are to unload two of their prop forwards who have failed to come up to scratch this season. The Rhinos have agreed to requests for releases from Luke Burgess and Ben Cross.

Burgess, whose contract expires at the end of this season, is expected to join his brothers, Sam and George, in Australia, where they play for South Sydney in the NRL. Leeds are willing to let him go out on loan to another British club until then.

Cross, 32, arrived with a big reputation from the Newcastle Knights, with whom he represented New South Wales in the State of Origin series. The front-rower has failed to reproduce that sort of form at Headingley, however, and has not figured in the first team since the end of April. "Both Luke and Ben have asked the club if they can be released from the remainder of their contract," said the Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington. "Both have been frustrated that they have been unable to force their way into the side, given the outstanding form of other players in their position." Burgess spent part of the 2007 season on loan to Harlequins, who, given their manpower problems, could be interested in taking him again.

Leeds' veteran centre, Keith Senior, has emphasised that he wants to play again next season, despite a knee operation that will keep him out for the remainder of this campaign. "I'm going to play next season, definitely," said the 35-year-old Great Britain international. "I still have a lot to offer."

Castleford forward Martin Aspinwall, 29, was yesterday jailed for four months. The second-rower crashed his car during a police pursuit in his hometown of Wigan, Liverpool Crown Court was told. Aspinwall had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. The sentencing hearing comes four months after Aspinwall was given a suspended jail term of eight months for assault.

The Rugby League has denied that its chief executive, Nigel Wood, has specifically blamed Leeds fans for the booing of Sam Tomkins during England's match against the Exiles last Friday. Leeds have been asked for their views because they were the host club. Tomkins returns to Wigan's side to play St Helens tonight after missing Sunday's draw at Castleford. Francis Meli returns to Saints' squad.

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