Kirke has no grudges over Headingley exit

Ian Kirke thanks the Rhinos fans earlier this month.I
Ian Kirke thanks the Rhinos fans earlier this month.
I Ian Kirke thanks the Rhinos fans earlier this month.
Ian Kirke is still in the dark over the reasons for his sudden departure from Leeds but insists he holds no grudges against his old club as he prepares to kick-start his career with Wakefield.

The 34-year-old ex-York prop forward was looking forward to starting his 10th season with the Rhinos when he was told in November that his chances of regular football in 2015 were going to be limited.

It left him with little time to find a new club but the Wildcats offered him a 12-month deal and he followed a well-trodden path from Headingley to Belle Vue.

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“I had a conversation in the middle of last season when I was definitely staying for this year but at the end of the year that changed,” Kirke said. “I’m not too sure why.

“I think it’s because they’re bringing on the younger players. They’ve got to look to the future. I’ve got no bitter feelings towards them, other than perhaps it wasn’t ideal timing for me because most clubs were settled by the time I got to find out. As it happens, Wakefield is good for me. I don’t have to uproot myself and I know a few of the guys here.”

Back rower Chris Clarkson had been given the same message a few months earlier and front rower Ryan Bailey was similarly told he was not part of Leeds coach Brian McDermott’s plans for 2015.

They moved on to Widnes (on a season-long loan) and Hull KR respectively.

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Wakefield are the bookmakers favourites to finish bottom but Kirke believes they can once more defy the pundits.

“The squad is looking good for this year,” he said. “They’ve got Tim Smith back, who is a great half-back and actually pretty different to what I’ve played with before.

“He’s pretty organised and he will help me because he tells you where you need to be on the pitch. Coming to a new team with new systems it helps me massively.”