GRAND FINAL winner Chev Walker has returned to Headingley.
Walker has joined Leeds Rhinos’ Foundation to work on a new project aiming to engage high school children who otherwise would not come into contact with rugby league.
The 34-year-old was the youngest player to make his debut for Leeds in the Super League era.
He scored 86 tries in 183 appearances for Rhinos from 1999-2006 and then switched to rugby union with Bath before spells back in league at Hull KR and Bradford Bulls.
He was an assistant-coach at Bradford, but lost his job when the club ceased trading two months ago.
Walker’s new role will see him working with Leeds schools to identify youngsters with the physical attributes to make a rugby league player, but who may not have been reached by the game during their primary school years.
He will also be working closely with high school teachers to help them develop as coaches, as well as heading up the new high schools structure in Leeds which will see schools access more regular rugby league fixtures and closer contact with Leeds Rhinos Foundation staff
Walker said: “It is great to be back at the Rhinos 11 years after I left. I came to rugby league by accident really because my parents moved home [from Harehills to Hunslet] and I have been fortunate to have enjoyed an incredible career thanks to the game.
“The Leeds Rhinos Foundation do an incredible job with the rugby league development plan to get children interested in the game, but inevitably in a city the size of Leeds, they can not reach everyone. The aim of this project is to find those teenagers who are physically suited to our game, but have not accessed the game yet in their school lives.
“This is a huge untapped pool of talent in Leeds and I am really excited about the new role.”
Rhinos Foundation’s rugby league development manager Leon Crick said: “The new initiative will identify and recruit talented athletes from high schools into rugby league.
“Those players identified will be directed towards their local community club to continue their development.”