Ward has no guarantees
Rhinos youngster has no Wembley assurances
Last Updated: 18/07/12 4:40pm
Stevie Ward (left): Not guaranteed a place in Leeds' Challenge Cup final team
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insists Stevie Ward is not guaranteed a Challenge Cup final place after pulling out of England's Academy tour.
The 18-year-old opted out of the tour of Australia in order to give him the best chance of keeping his spot in the side to play Warrington at Wembley.
But McDermott has warned the youngster, who signed a new five-year contract at Headingley Carnegie on Tuesday, that making the personal sacrifice will not guarantee his place in the side.
"It would have enhanced his career and made him a far more rounded player but then you'd argue staying with us and building up to the Challenge Cup final is also going to be really beneficial to him."
McDermott on Ward Quotes of the week
"That was made very clear during that decision-making process," explained McDermott.
"Stevie needed to have all the information to make a really big call and I've been talking to his family.
"There's no doubt that, had he gone on tour, it would have enhanced his career and made him a far more rounded player but then you'd argue staying with us and building up to the Challenge Cup final is also going to be really beneficial to him.
"Part of the information he needed to have is that there is no guarantee that he will play.
"That's the gamble he takes. It was a big decision for an 18-year-old to make and, whether he plays in the final or not, I think he's made the right choice."
Instead of boarding a flight to Sydney on Wednesday, Ward was training at Kirkstall with his Leeds team-mates preparing for Friday's Stobart Super League derby with the Bradford Bulls.
The only absentee against the Bulls is likely to be centre Carl Ablett, who has a hamstring injury.
"The team won't be too different," said McDermott. Carl Ablett has some hamstring issues and he might just need a week's rest."