RESURGENT FORWARD Stevie Ward has shrugged off speculation he could become Leeds Rhinos’ next captain.
Current skipper Danny McGuire has confirmed he will leave Rhinos at the end of the season to join Hull KR.
Ward has been tipped as a future Leeds captain since breaking into the first team five years ago and boss Brian McDermott hinted he is in the running after his hat-trick in last week’s win over Wigan Warriors.
But, speaking ahead of tonight’s Betfred Super-8s derby at Wakefield Trinity, Ward insisted he is not worrying about something he can’t control.
“That’s not really my call,” said the 23-year-old, who inherited the No 13 jersey from the sport’s greatest-ever captain Kevin Sinfield at the end of 2015.
“I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to be captain and lead at some point in my career.
“It would be a lovely thing to do and something I always wanted to do when I was younger.
“Whether it is the right time and whether I am the right man is up to the coaching staff and people who’ve been around here for years and years.
“That’s something that’ll have to come out in the wash and we’ll see what happens.
“One thing at a time, I am just happy to be back playing in form and going out there and enjoying myself.”
Performances like last week’s will also boost Ward’s chances of playing for England in this autumn’s World Cup, but he is taking a similar approach.
“I am not thinking about England,” he insisted.
“We’ve got a really big job to finish off this year with Leeds and get to a stage where we could be winning a Grand Final so there’s not really any thoughts towards the international side at this minute.
“I am just playing with a smile on my face, plugging away and working hard and just enjoying the contests that present themselves.
“It was a big effort from all the boys last week and a great night and a really good time to share with the boys.
“It was fabulous to get that hat-trick and there were moments when it felt like I was back out in the park playing with friends, it was that enjoyable.
“I am in good spirits and very conscious I need to keep working hard because these things don’t just happen; there’s a process I need to go through to be able to do things like that.”
Tonight will be Ward’s 19th appearance of the season.
He missed the start of the campaign due to an on-going knee problem and has had spells out with hamstring and concussion injuries.
He said: “It has been a disrupted year. I’ve probably been guilty in my early years of thinking everything’s going to be an upward curve and carry on like that, but in reality it doesn’t happen like that playing such a tough game.
“I am really happy to be on that rollercoaster and I am getting there, I am getting the confidence back with ball in hand and doing the things I used to be doing.
“There’s a lot of work to be done before you can score the tries and do things like that. I am going to stick with that and hope it flourishes.”