TEENAGE HOOKER Robbie Ward is Leeds Rhinos’ Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star for 2014.
The 18-year-old received his prize - a framed copy of a YEP back page produced to mark his achievement - at Rhinos’ back tie awards presentation at Headingley Carnegie last night.
The award was presented by YEP competition winner Olivia Holmes, from Pontefract.
Ward, 18, has made seven appearances for Rhinos this year - five of them in the starting lineup - and scored two tries, including one on his debut against Hull at Headingley in May.
He also scored a vital touchdown as Leeds battled past Leigh Centurions in a televised Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Paying tribute to the former Oulton Raiders amateur, coach Brian McDermott said: “Robbie is a second year academy player and most players who progress to the first team tend to be third years, so to play first team this year is credit to him.
“He stepped in when we lost both Paul Aiton and Rob Burrow to injury and it was a tough introduction for him.
“Usually he would come on on the back of Rob or Paulie and be able to learn from those two, but he was dropped into the arena on his own and that in itself is credit to him.
“While there were some little blips and blemishes along the way, the main view is that he handled it and did really well.”
The Shooting Star award is voted for YEP readers and recognises the young player, aged 24 or under, who has made the biggest impact over the past 12 months.
Also nominated this year were Elliot Minchella, Brad Singleton, Josh Walters and Stevie Ward.
Meanwhile, Jamie Peacock was the night’s big winner, being named Cravendale fans’ player of the year and retaining his Grosvenor Casinos player of the year title, which is chosen by the coaching staff.
Zak Hardaker was player of the year runner-up, with Carl Ablett in third place.
McDermott received the Leeds Rugby Foundation commitment to community award and veteran player Jamie Jones-Buchanan was clubman of the year.
The Chris Sanderson Memorial Award for academy player of the year went to Ashton Golding, 17, who made his first team debut in last month’s defeat at London Broncos.