Ward commits to Rhinos
Headingley starlet signs a new five-year contract
Last Updated: July 17, 2012 9:46am
Stevie Ward: Signs a new five-year contract with the Leeds Rhinos
Leeds Rhinos' rising talent Stevie Ward has committed his future to the club by signing a new five-year deal at Headingley Carnegie.
The 18-year-old, who can play at half-back or in the back row, has made nine first-team appearances since featuring against St Helens four months ago.
Ward is now tied to the Rhinos until 2017 while the youngster has also opted out in England's Academy tour of Australia in order to concentrate on his club commitments.
"I feel I need to keep playing with the Rhinos at this stage having broken into the squad."
Stevie Ward Quotes of the week
The Leeds-born teenager was left with the decision whether to travel Down Under and he has decided to remain with the club and fight for a place in next month's Challenge Cup final against the Warrington Wolves.
"I am really honoured to be offered a long term contract with the club and over the moon to have signed here for the next five years," he told the club's official website.
"I have never wanted to play for any other club. Leeds is my home and everyone at the club has made it so much easier for me to come into the first team this season and feel part of the squad.
"The decision to withdraw from the Academy tour was left to me. I spoke with my family, team mates and Brian McDermott and everyone said they would support me whatever I decided to do.
"For me personally, I feel I need to keep playing with the Rhinos at this stage having broken into the squad.
"We have got some very important games coming up in the league as we look to move up the table and of course we now have Wembley on the horizon at the end of next month.
"Part of being a professional sportsman is that you have to make sacrifices and live with your decisions and whilst this has been the toughest decision of my life, I believe it is the right one.
"I wish John Bateman and the rest of the England lads all the best for the tour and I know they will go there and down themselves and the country proud."
"I am sure we will see some exciting things from him over the next five years in both a Rhinos and an England shirt."
Brian McDermott Quotes of the week
Ward has featured in Leeds' last six games, including their cup semi-final success over Wigan and coach Brian McDermott is predicting a bright future for the youngster.
"Stevie is a very exciting talent and someone we are proud to call one of our own," McDermott stated.
"I know the decision to withdraw from the England tour was a tough one for him and was not taken lightly.
"This has been a big year for him as he has finished his A Levels, made his Super League debut and has now signed a new long-term contract.
"He is a very determined character and I am sure we will see some exciting things from him over the next five years in both a Rhinos and an England shirt."