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Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 20 June 2011 13:08 UK

Leeds Rhinos part with Luke Burgess and Ben Cross

Luke Burgess
Burgess was a big influence when Leeds won the 2009 Grand Final

Leeds Rhinos props Luke Burgess and Ben Cross have been released from the remainder of their contracts with immediate effect.

Both players had been given permission last week to speak to other clubs with a view to playing elsewhere.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "We have agreed to Luke's request so that he can fulfil his ambition of playing in the NRL in Australia.

"We have also agreed to release Ben to pursue other opportunities."

Burgess, who came through the club's academy and won the 2009 Grand Final with the Rhinos, said: "I would like to thank the club for agreeing to release me from my contract to enable me to take up this opportunity.

"I appreciate the support I have received from the Rhinos supporters throughout my career and the comments I have received on Twitter over the past few days, it is certainly something that has not gone unnoticed by myself.

I am leaving Leeds with some great memories and lifelong friends

Luke Burgess

"I am moving on to pastures new - I have always spoken of my desire to test myself in the NRL and I now have an opportunity to fulfil that dream.

"However, I am leaving Leeds with some great memories and lifelong friends."

Burgess follows in the footsteps down under of his brothers Sam and George, both of whom play for South Sydney.

Castleford head coach Terry Matterson told BBC Radio Leeds on Monday that Burgess had rejected chance to play for Tigers.

"We thought Luke might be available but by the sound of it he wants to stay there and fight for his position," he said.

Cross, 32, failed to command a place in the first team at Headingley after moving from Melbourne Knights on a two-year deal in October 2010.

He is now expected to return to his native Australia.

Rhinos have also confirmed that Ben Jones-Bishop will make his comeback from a shoulder operation in the Rugby League Nines Festival at Featherstone on Tuesday night.

The full-back has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Salford earlier this season.

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