Stevie Ward named as new Leeds Rhinos captain
LEEDS RHINOS will be captained by their number 13 next season after Stevie Ward was confirmed as the club’s new skipper.
Ward, 26, is Rhinos’ longest-serving player and their fourth captain in five seasons after Danny McGuire (2016-17), Kallum Watkins (2018-19) and Trent Merrin (2019). The Leeds-born loose-forward/second-row succeeded Kevin Sinfield, captain from 2003 to 2015, as Leeds’ number 13 ahead of the 2016 campaign. He will lead the team out for the first time when Rhinos face Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley on Boxing Day. Ward made his debut as an 18-year-old in 2012 and has won two Grand Finals, a Challenge Cup and a league leaders’ shield during 135 appearances for the club.
“I am immensely proud to be Leeds Rhinos captain,” Ward said. “It is something I have strived towards since I first picked up a rugby ball and it has not always been easy, but I’ve had some remarkable people to learn from along the way to help me achieve it.”
The former Churwell Chiefs and Hunslet Warriors amateur has battled a series of injury setbacks, including knee damage which restricted him to only six games in 2019, but is now fully fit and “excited” about 2020.
He added: “All of the boys are on the same page and working for each other. There is a real energy going into the new year. I feel like we are creating a strong new identity for the new decade.
“The response of everybody to the news about Rob Burrow last week shows what the Rhinos represents. The connections and memories we all can make and the personal relationships we can build should be the foundation of any success we have. This is something the team has been working to cultivate already, but we now have an even bigger purpose to fulfil in making sure the ‘Rhinos Way’ continues to thrive.”
Coach Richard Agar said: “Stevie thoroughly deserves this accolade and I know he will do an outstanding job. Last year, when we looked to re-establish our standards, Stevie was one of the key members of the group and instrumental in forging our future. He has shown great maturity in recent years in how he has dealt with adversity. We saw at the end of last season the impact he had on our team on the field and I am looking forward to seeing him lead the side out on Boxing Day.”