Matt Prior: Leeds Rhinos' Australian forward agrees new two-year contract

Player of the year Matt Prior reckons “the best is yet to come” after confirming he is staying at Leeds Rhinos.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 6:00 am

The 34-year-old Australian forward has signed a two-year deal, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2023 campaign.

Prior is ever-present for Rhinos so far this season and was capped by Combined Nations All Stars against England last month, at the start of a personal spell of five games in 15 days.

Top tackler for Rhinos in 2021 - and captain when Luke Gale has been unavailable - Prior signed a two-year contract when he moved to Leeds from Cronulla Sharks at the end of 2019.

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Matt Prior's new contract is a major boost for Rhinos. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

He had the option of a third year, but has now agreed an extra 12 months on top of that, so will be 36 when his latest deal ends.

“I am really pleased to have got it sorted as it has been going on for a little while now,” Prior - who is in the squad for tonight’s home clash with Salford Red Devils - said of his contract extension.

“I can focus on my footy now for the remainder of the season.

“The club offered me another year on top of the additional season I had an option for and I was glad to accept that as there are some exciting times ahead here at the Rhinos.”

Matt Prior, left, celebrates last year's Challenge Cup win with teammates Mikolaj Oledzki, centre and Kruise Leeming. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Prior considered retiring last winter and admitted: “It has been tough since we moved to England because of the Covid restrictions, but there is light at the end of the tunnel now and I think the best is yet to come for me, my family and the Rhinos in my time at the club.

“I love the club, I have really enjoyed coming to training every day. The boys are a great bunch of blokes to be around and that is massive for me.”

Prior’s new deal was announced four days after Rhinos confirmed the signing of Huddersfield Giants half-back Aidan Sezer for the next two seasons.

St Helens forward James Bentley is also heading to Rhinos in 2022 and Prior insisted: “The club, as a whole, is in a really good spot in terms of the make-up of our squad.

Matt Prior on the attack against Warrington. Picture by Simon Hulme.

“We have got a lot of good young guys coming through, but we’ve also got some good senior blokes too.

“It’s a good club to be part of and I think it is a good time to be here.”

Coach Richard Agar chose Prior as Rhinos’ outstanding player last term.

“Matt has been fantastic for us during his time at the club and I don’t think you can underestimate how important this new deal is for the club and him,” Agar said.

“I know he has become a fans’ favourite and it will be great to see the reception he gets [tonight] when our fans return for the game against Salford.”

Director of rugby Kevin Sinfield added: “We are delighted to have agreed a new deal with Matt.

“It was a big decision for him, especially with his young family.

“For anyone to be away from their loved ones is tough, but during the global pandemic that has been particularly hard on all our overseas players.

“Matt has shown outstanding leadership with his actions on the field and he is a great example for our young forwards at the club.”

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