THE ANNUAL hunt for Leeds Rhinos’ Shooting Star begins today.
The prestigious award, which began in 1998, recognises the young player, aged 24 or under, who has contributed the most to Rhinos’ cause over the past 12 months.
The honour is decided by Yorkshire Evening Post readers’ votes and will be presented by a fan at Rhinos’ annual awards night at Headingley Carnegie on Monday, September 13.
Nominees this year are loose-forward Elliot Minchella, prop Brad Singleton, back-rower Josh Walters, hooker Robbie Ward and utility-player Stevie Ward.
Minchella, 18, has made five senior appearances this season and been a regular in Rhinos’ under-19s, where he is regarded as one of the country’s outstanding forward prospects.
A strong defender, he is also a ball-player who has filled in at times in the stand-off role for the academy side.
Strong-running Singleton, 21, is in his fourth season as a Rhinos senior player, having made his debut in 2011.
After making 16 appearances last term he has turned out 22 times in 2014, confirming his status as the possible long-term successor to Jamie Peacock at the heart of Rhinos’ pack.
Former Leeds Carnegie rugby union forward Josh Walters crossed codes in May last year and made his senior rugby league debut a year later.
A hard worker, with good pace and an eye for the line, having scored three senior tries so far, the 19-year-old has played nine times this year and has been one of the surprise finds of the season.
Robbie Ward, 18, got his first-team opportunity, at the age of 18, after regular hookers Paul Aiton and Rob Burrow were ruled out due to illness and injury respectively.
Quick and sharp around acting-half, he scored a try on his first start in May’s home win over Hull and has made seven appearances so far.
Twenty-year-old Stevie Ward, no relation to Robbie, is the most experienced of this year’s nominees, having played 53 senior games for Leeds and been a member of the Grand Final-winning side two years ago, when he also turned out at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final.
Having missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury, the versatile Ward has been an important squad man for Rhinos this term, playing 21 times, in a number of different roles.
Voting for the 2014 Shooting Star award begins today.
To vote, send the name of your chosen player – plus your own name, address and daytime telephone number – on the back of a postcard or a sealed envelope to Leeds Rhinos Shooting Star, Sports Desk, Yorkshire Evening Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Alternatively, you can email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org (entering Shooting Star as the email subject). The closing date for entries is 10am next Monday, September 8.
You can also tweet your vote to @PeteSmithYEP using #ShootingStar.
Normal YEP competition rules and regulations apply, a copy of which is available from our promotions and publicity department.
To find out how we may use your contact details, please refer to the data protection information in the public notices section of today’s paper.
The player receiving the most votes will win the award. All votes for the winning player will go into a draw to win two tickets to the awards night.
The winner of the draw will present the award on the night.
Anyone can vote, but the awards night is open to over-18s only. The draw winner must be willing to present the award on stage.