HE has got back on the field at last, but Stevie Ward will wait to don Leeds Rhinos’ iconic No 13 shirt.
Ward inherited the squad number from captain and club legend Kevin Sinfield, who retired after leading Leeds to a domestic treble last year.
But the 22-year-old has endured a long delay to pull the jersey on.
He suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the final game of the 2015 Super-8s and underwent three operations on his damaged knee and shoulder surgery before returning to training last week.
He warmed up as 18th man ahead of Leeds’s clash with Hull KR in the Qualifiers and was a water carrier during the game, but revealed he decided not to wear the No 13 shirt, despite it hanging on his peg in the changing room.
“I didn’t put the jersey on,” he confirmed.
“I wore my warm-up top instead. I will leave that until I actually play in it.”
Ward said taking part in preparations for the game was a major step forward.
“It was great to be involved in all the build-up and I needed that,” he said.
Ward added: “I am glad Mac [coach Brian McDermott] put me in as 18th man, to go through all that.
“After being out for such a long time it was good to get it out of the way, so when I do play – when I’m fully right and I’ve got some muscle memory back – I am straight into it.
“I will just be able to get on with the job straight away.”
Ward has not ruled out making his comeback away to London Broncos on Saturday, though Leeds’s coaching staff may decide not to risk him on the artificial pitch at Ealing Trailfinders.
“I am always looking at next week,” Ward said.
“I’ll see how training goes this week and go from there.”