ENGLAND WORLD Cup hopeful Stevie Ward says he is happy to play out of position for Leeds Rhinos if it helps the team.
Ward, a second-row or loose-forward, was switched into the centres for last weekend’s 50-24 win at Salford Red Devils.
Joel Moon was retained at stand-off – having made a big impression since his switch there earlier in the season – and Jimmy Keinhorst was not yet ready to return from a long-term hand injury.
With Liam Sutcliffe ruled out because of a hamstring problem, Rhinos boss Brian McDermott could have moved Carl Ablett into the backs or played winger Ryan Hall out of position, but instead gave Ward an opportunity to show what he can do in an unfamiliar role.
It was the 23-year-old’s second appearance of the season at centre and he could be needed there again this week after Kallum Watkins was ruled out due to concussion suffered at Salford.
“I enjoyed it,” said Ward, who made his first start for Leeds – five years ago – at scrum-half.
“It’s a bit of a different role in defence and in attack you can breathe a bit easier when you hit the ball.
“I was able to open my legs a bit and have a dart, so it was nice.
“It’s nice to change it up, it was good – I thought we went well and the dynamic of the team went well.
“It was a good effort to get a win over there.”
Ward said played only four times last year following a serious knee injury and was in and out of the team at the start of the season, but has missed only one – through suspension – of Rhinos’ last 11 games.
“I have missed that many games over the last few years I will put my hand up to play anywhere,” he stressed.
“It is about improving – if I am asked to play there [in the centres] I will improve and sharpening my sword to play in any position is good.
“It’s a good thing to be able to play more than one position and it was good [last Sunday] because the team played well.
“Centre’s a different position and if the forwards aren’t going forward there’s not a role, so I had it was a pleasure to play in a team that performed.”
A win tomorrow could seal second place in the table going into the Betfred Super-8s.
With two games remaining in the regular season Rhinos are two points ahead of Salford – who face a tough game at leaders Castleford Tigers – and three clear of Hull.
“It is a big game,” Ward said.
“It is a short turnaround, but we will get firing to go and we want to put a good performance in.
“It’s at Headingley in front of our home crowd and we want to be trading punches with Hull.”
Of the situation on the table, Ward added: “We’re in a good position now, but we’re still building toward the end of the year.
“We’ve got a lot to do, we have got to keep going and putting performances in and sticking in the battles because when it matters that armoury and resilience we’ve got will count in the big games.”