The first player to be announced under the dual registration agreement between the two clubs will be centre Iain Thornley. The 19 year old former Wigan Warriors rugby league player joined the Sharks last October. He went on to make five appearances in the Aviva Premiership and a further four in the LV= Cup, scoring one try, and was a regular in the Sale Jets team that was narrowly defeated by Leicester in the 'A' League Final. More players will be announced in the coming weeks and months as dual registered or on loan between Leeds and Sale.
Commenting on the arrangement, Sharks Executive Director of Sport Steve Diamond said, "We are really pleased to be announcing this tie up with Leeds. We now have a superb partner club where our young players can develop in a quality environment during the 2011-12 season. Players like Iain Thornley are the future of Sale Sharks but with a shortened 'A' League programme of only five games this year, he might not have got as much game time as he needed this season. Iain is training very well but needs to play games regularly now to learn the sport.
The quality of rugby offered in The Championship is ideal for young players like Iain Thornley and several others we currently have. The dual registration rules mean we can call the players back to Sale as required but the important factor is that they get to play week in week out rugby at a high level which will accelerate their development.
Once the Rugby World Cup is over, we will be looking to place more players at Leeds on loan or via dual registration as our squad will be boosted by the return of a number of Internationals. That's when I see this arrangement with Leeds really bearing fruit for both clubs but particularly for the players involved."
Gary Hetherington, Chief Executive of Leeds Carnegie added, "This is an exciting partnership for both ourselves and Sale Sharks. We have certain requirements within our squad for this season and this arrangement allows us to bring in quality individuals who will fit in with our ethos. Obviously having been part of the Sharks set up, we know they will be of the required standard and the Leeds Carnegie coaching staff will have the option to draw upon other resources as the season progresses. As well as this partnership, ourselves, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons, as share holders in Premiership Rugby, are looking to work together over the coming years to strengthen Rugby Union in the North of England and work with the authorities to nurture and develop the base of talent and support for the game that exists in the North."