Poorly youngsters were given an early Christmas present from their heroes as Leeds Rhinos players visited them in hospital.
The entire championship-winning squad, who clinched the Super League Grand Final trophy in October, met children staying on the wards at Leeds General Infirmary yesterday.
Alongside club mascot Ronnie the Rhino, the players handed out a sackful of gifts bought by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, and posed for photos with the young patients and their families.
There were also gifts for the children from Sydney-born Rhinos forward Adam Cuthbertson – who used money raised through sales of his match and training kits to personally buy presents for the hospital.
The player has visited the hospital wards for the last two years but because he was still at home in Australia yesterday, the squad handed over £2,000 worth of presents on his behalf.
Club half-back Richie Myler said: “It is great to be able to come down and show our support for the young fans. It is tough for them and their families to be in hospital, especially at this time of year, and if we can help in any way to put a smile on their faces then that is great.”
Larger presents handed out to the ward as a result of Cuthbertson’s fundraising included a new TV, PS4 games console, portable DVD players and board games.
There were gifts too for nursing staff at the hospital’s children’s wards, who were each given two tickets to The Clash – when the Rhinos take on Hull KR on February 8. The game is billed as one of the biggest matches of the season, and tens of thousands of fans are expected to cram into the stadium for the tie, which will be played at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.
The Rhinos will kick off the 2018 Super League season against Warrington Wolves away on February 1.
Bosses at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation say the club has helped wrap more than 300 presents for children at the LGI ahead of the squad’s visit.
Leon Crick, Rugby League Development Manager at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation said: “This is always an event in our calendar that the players look forward to.
“We have been working hard over the last few weeks to wrap over 300 presents to take down and the players, as always, were a real credit to the club.”