Leeds Rhinos fan Nathan Pride is celebrating after playing a picture perfect role during the club’s preparations for the new Super League season.
Nathan, who is 26 and suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy, got hooked on the Rhinos and rugby league when he attended the Challenge Cup final at Murrayfield in 2000.
He is one of Leeds’s gold members and rarely misses a match, despite needing 24-hour support from his family and carers.
His dedication to the Rhinos cause was rewarded when he took his place alongside stars such as Kallum Watkins and Jamie Jones-Buchanan for their 2018 team photo.
And, in a sign of the spirit of togetherness that runs through the club, it was the generosity of a fellow fan that led to him lining up alongside his playing heroes.
Nathan’s dad, Andy Pride, from Seacroft in Leeds, said: “We were in the Long Bar [at Emerald Headingley Stadium] as usual after a game and a lady came up to us and explained that she had won the prize but wanted Nathan to have it.
“She was a complete stranger and it was a lovely gesture and sums up how lovely the atmosphere is at rugby league games.”
Nathan said: “I was extremely excited to be part of the Leeds Rhinos team photo and I appreciated the players coming over to speak to me, particularly Richie Myler, as I have never met him before.
“[Head coach] Brian McDermott also came over to say hello. My favourite players are Adam Cuthbertson and Kallum Watkins and it was an honour to spend time with them and the rest of the squad.”
The Rhinos kick off their bid to keep hold of their Super League title with a fixture at Warrington Wolves next Thursday, February 1.