Adrian Morley is to come out of retirement to play one final game, for his first club Leeds Rhinos against the touring New Zealanders later this month.
Morley, a former Great Britain captain who brought the curtain down on his 20-year career last month at the age of 38, will lace up the boots for one last time as a guest for the Rhinos in their clash with the Kiwis at Headingley on Friday week.
Morley, who made his debut for Leeds in April 1995 before going on to play for Sydney Roosters, Warrington and Salford, said, “It’s a great honour and thrill for me.
“It has come out of the blue but when (Leeds chief executive) Gary Hetherington asked me I didn’t think twice. I have so many great memories of my time at Leeds and New Zealand were the first international team I played against in 1996.
“I can’t think of a better way to finish my career and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Morley hung up his boots playing for his home-town club Salford on September 27 but maintained his fitness preparing for a charity climb up Kilimanjaro which began this week.
He enjoyed a guest spell with Bradford in 2005 during his time in the NRL when he helped the Bulls to a Grand Final win over Leeds.
Hetherington said: “Adrian has served Leeds, England, Great Britain and the game with great distinction for 20 years and it’s fitting he should finish where he started with Leeds at Headingley against the best rugby league team in the world.”
The game will be the official farewell to Leeds’ long-serving trio Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai with presentations to the players after the game.
Peacock will not play in the game, nor will Leeds’ trio of England internationals, but Sinfield and Leuluai could. The rest of the victorious Grand Final squad have been given this week off and will report back next week when the medical team will assess the squad for injuries.
More than 11,000 tickets have already been sold for the game which will be the first between a Super League club and a touring team since 2002 and will mark the 125th anniversary of the Headingley Stadium.