Rugby-mad twin brothers Jayden and Sean Whalley got the surprise of their young lives when an unexpected guest turned an already memorable school assembly into a truly champion occasion.
The eight-year-olds arrived at Kirkstall St Stephen’s C of E Primary School as usual this morning little knowing they had won a competition organised by Leeds Rhinos to mark the unveiling of Kallum Watkins as club captain.
The boys, both season ticket holders at the Rhinos, only realised something special was afoot when headteacher Steven Viles asked them to come up to the front of the school hall during assembly.
He told the pair they had been chosen to announce the name of the new Leeds captain for the forthcoming Super League season.
And, as Jayden and Sean excitedly opened a golden envelope and revealed the skipper’s identity to their schoolmates, Kallum himself walked into the hall.
But that wasn’t the only surprise of the day for the brothers – they also found out that they will be mascots for the Rhinos’ opening home match of the season, against Hull KR at Elland Road on Thursday, February 8.
Kallum said: “It was great to see the look on the lads’ faces when they turned round.
“I am really looking forward to leading the team out at Elland Road for our first home game of the season and it will be great to have such passionate fans like Jayden and Sean alongside me.”
The twins’ mum, Kira Whalley, from Kirkstall, was at the school to watch their big moment.
She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I am so proud, it’s a dream come true for them.
“The Rhinos rang me a week ago and told me they had won so I’ve had to keep it a secret from them since then.
“They were still completely oblivious this morning.
“Now it’s going to be a case of counting down the days until the game.”
Also present for the assembly was Ronnie the Rhino, who brought along the Super League trophy won by Leeds in October.
Ronnie and Kallum rounded off proceedings by joining teachers and children in a rousing rendition of city sporting anthem Marching On Together.
The Rhinos choose mascots for each home match from the club’s junior membership.
Membership prices start from £45, which includes entry to all league games home and away throughout the season.