Following the recent departure of Australian forward and captain Trent Merrin, Leeds Rhinos yesterday announced that Stevie Ward would be the man taking up the mantle from the man who has now returned to the NRL.

Making his debut as an 18-year-old, Ward is one of the longest-serving players now in the Rhinos ranks after a high turnover of players in recent years and the forward is looking forward to taking on the role. “I am excited about 2020. 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 26-year-old told the official Rhinos website.

“I am immensely proud to be Leeds Rhinos captain. 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,” he added. Ward has 135 appearances for the club to his name but has experienced many injury troubles along the way since making his debut in 2012.

He – and the Rhinos fans – will be hoping those issues are now behind him and are no doubt looking forward to seeing their newly-appointed captain and fans’ favourite lead the team out against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.