Leeds Rhinos: McDermott praises ‘outstanding’ second row ace Ward

Brian McDermott.
Brian McDermott.
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BOSS BRIAN MCDERMOTT has praised Stevie Ward for his flying start to the season with Leeds Rhinos.

The 21-year-old second-rower was outstanding in Rhinos’ opening win at Hull KR last weekend and McDermott reckons he is showing signs of being back to his best after a series of shoulder problems over the past two years.

“He played 74 minutes and he was very good,” the coach said of Ward’s effort against Hull KR.

“That was the best he’s played for us, I would say.

“He has had some outstanding games for us, especially in 2012 when he made his debut and then sporadically throughout the last couple of years he’s had some decent games, but he’s also had niggles and injuries and shoulder operations.

“This has been the first pre-season he’s done when I’ve been his coach when he’s been injury-free. He was very, very good on Sunday.

“He was a strong ball carrier and very sound and strong defensively.

“And Stevie has got that added element to his game in that he can break a line. He’s got a bit of leg speed and a bit of footwork. He was a big part of why we went well.”

Meanwhile, international rugby league will return to Headingley Carnegie when Belgium take on Malta in a curtain-raiser to the round 19 First Utility Super League clash between Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC on Sunday, June 21.