Leeds Rhinos forward Ian Kirke will join First Utility Super League rivals Wakefield Trinity Wildcats with immediate effect after the Tetley’s Challenge Cup winners released the 33 year old from the final year of his contract at Headingley Carnegie.

Kirke joined the Rhinos in 2006 from York City Knights and has won five Super League Grand Finals and last year’s Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. In total he has made 214 appearances for the club and scored 12 tries.Commenting on the move, Head Coach Brian McDermott said, “In years to come people will look back on this era for the club and the unprecedented success we have enjoyed. That success would not have been possible without the foot soldiers within our squad who do the hard work and enable the team to be victorious and Ian Kirke was at the top of that list. He has been a fantastic servant for the club and defied those doubters that said a player from the lower leagues could not succeed at the higher level; Ian has not only survived but thrived in Super League. He leaves with our best wishes and I am sure he will do a fantastic job for James Webster and Wakefield next season.”

Kirke, who previously had spells at Hull FC, Hull KR and Dewsbury will join up with a number of former Rhinos team mates at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium including Nick Scruton, Ali Lauitiiti and Paul McShane. He commented, “I will always be grateful to the Rhinos for giving me the chance to play in Super League having been spotted at York. During my time at the club it has been a privilege to play with some exceptional players. I could not choose between the Finals that I have played in for a favourite but probably the one that stands out in terms of significance was the first one in 2007. We had not played in a Grand Final for a couple of years and it was special to get back there and win it and that really kicked us on for the next few years. I have been fortunate to be involved in Finals every year I have been at the club and that is something that I will remember fondly.

“There are a few familiar faces at Wakefield which will hopefully make the transition that bit easier. I have spoken to James Webster and I was impressed by his plans for the team. It will be strange to play against Leeds next season, I have a lot of good mates at the club but I am sure I will get over that as soon as the whistle goes.

“It is good to get my future resolved quickly so that I can get a full pre-season with the Wildcats. Leeds are an ambitious club they want to kick on for the future and that means that players like Brad Singleton and Josh Walters deserve the chance to get more game time. The club have been honest with me about that and, whilst there was an option to stay, hopefully by moving I will get the chance to play more consistently which will benefit everyone.

“I would like to thank the Leeds fans for their support down the years and everyone connected with the club who have been brilliant with me over the last nine years,” added Kirke.