Fan for life vow as Richie Myler talks Leeds Rhinos exit, thanks supporters , looks ahead to new York Knights career
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Myler joined Rhinos from Catalans Dragons ahead of the 2018 season and scored 52 tries, six goals and two drop goals in 134 appearances. His final game for Leeds was at St Helens on July 28, when he suffered a season-ending foot injury.
The 33-year-old had a year left on his Rhinos contract, but lost his status as first-choice full-back when Lachie Miller was signed from NRL outfit Newcastle Knights on a deal beginning next term. He was confirmed as a York player on November 6 and is now training with them ahead of their 2024 Betfred Championship campaign.
“Ultimately, it was [my choice to leave],” he stated. “There was an option to stay at Leeds, I had another 12 months on my contract. It wasn’t as though Leeds told me to leave, they wanted me to stay and be part of the squad. I just felt the time was right for a new challenge.”
Myler stressed: “I think the club is going in the right direction, the way Rohan [Smith, Rhinos’ coach] wants to go with the team and the recruitment and everything. It’s just that I want to play.
“I would have fought for a spot, but opportunities may have been limited in terms of how much I actually played, initially anyway. I think it was the right time for me personally to take up a new challenge.”
Myler said the move to York came about following conversations with Clint Goodchild, the club’s owner. “The vision of the club and where they wanted to get to, it excited me,” he stated.
“I could see I could instantly have an impact on that environment and that club. It was more of a personal challenge I wanted to take up. The club’s ambition is to be in Super League and to be full-time and they are taking all the right steps.
“Hopefully I can play my part and help deliver that with performances on the field and all the great work the club’s doing behind the scenes. They are ticking all the boxes they need to.
“The city of York is crying out for a sport team to get behind and nothing does that more than a successful one. Winning on the field attracts crowds so if I can play a part in that, that’s certainly my aim.”
Even so, Widnes-born Myler admitted he was “sad” to leave Rhinos. He vowed: “I will be a Leeds fan for the rest of my life and I am really grateful to the fans and the club.
“The fans stuck by me through the tough times we had at the club and I am indebted to them. I like to feel every time I took to the field I took the shirt for 100 per cent of what it was. I think that’s shown by the amount of messages I’ve had thanking me for my time.
“I think it is the right time for me personally to leave and after some discussions with Rohan and Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive]. I think it worked well for that to happen. I wanted to leave on the right note and I think I have done.”
Myler joined Leeds as a half-back, after Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow bowed out following the 2017 Grand Final success. He was Leeds’ player of the year in his first season, but lost the number seven jersey to Luke Gale ahead of the 2020 campaign.
He began that year as a substitute and was set to be a back-up hooker until Jack Walker was injured in a February home win over Warrington Wolves. Myler came off the bench to play full-back for the first time in his career, produced a man of the match performance and from then on made the position his own, becoming the club’s official number one this year.
“I loved my time at Leeds,” he reflected. “I had six wonderful years. I wish we could have won a bit more silverware, but to leave as a Challenge Cup winner and a Lance Todd winner is something I am very proud of and it’ll stay with me forever.”
Rhinos’ 2020 Cup triumph over Salford was achieved at an empty Wembley Stadium, with fans excluded because of Covid. Even so, Myler regards it as the highlight of his time at Leeds.
“I don’t think we’ll ever have a final like that again,” he said. “It was a weird feeling. I managed to win there in 2012 with Warrington against Leeds so I know what it’s like to do it with all the crowd there.
“To do it without the fans was different, but just as special because the changing room and the bus trip home with the boys was really, really good. It was an amazing experience to be part of and definitely the highlight of my Leeds career.”
Myler is one of only eight Leeds players to be named man of the match in a Challenge Cup final, after Jeff Stevenson (1957), Steve Pitchford (1977), Leroy Rivett (1999), Gary Connolly (2003), Kevin Sinfield (2005), Ryan Hall (2014) and Tom Briscoe (2015). He said: “I am honoured to be in that category and nobody can ever take that away from me. I am very proud of my time at Leeds.”