Pryce targeting one last top-flight hurrah before returning ‘home’

So, one of rugby league’s worst-kept secrets is finally out of the bag, and Leon Pryce is a Bradford player once again from next season.

All eyes on next year and a return to his hometown club for the 34-year-old then? Not a chance. A golden opportunity means that Pryce has his eyes on one last hurrah in Super League – and there have been plenty of those in a career spanning nearly two decades – before stepping down to the Championship to try and help the Bulls back into Super League next year.

Having played just once in the last eight weeks, it looked like his chance had passed at Hull, and he would have to spend the rest of 2016 where he spent last weekend: sat in the stands watching his team-mates achieve success.

But with Lee Radford resting five of his Wembley heroes for Friday’s showdown at St Helens, it has handed Pryce an opportunity he is determined not to let slip away – with the veteran half-back returning to the Hull side at Langtree Park as stand-in captain.

“I’m massively delighted to be back in the team,” he tells TotalRL.

“I’ve not played for a while; I think in terms of the first team I’ve played about 50 minutes in eight weeks so I’m really happy to get back out there, get in the squad and hopefully get the nod for Friday.

“I’m hugely looking forward to the next part of the season. The team are highly motivated now and it’s going to be a big test for us at St Helens – but there’s everything to play for. It’s Grand Final season: this is what you want to play for.”

Leon Pryce

Pryce openly admits it has been a difficult period as he found himself unable to force his way into Lee Radford’s thinking, too.

“It’s been really difficult, as it’s probably the first time in my career where I’ve been out for so long.

“However, I’ve taught myself to stay positive and be realistic; I’ve been around for a long time and this is something that happens to every player at the back end of their career, I guess.

“It’s been difficult to come to terms with but it’s important to remember the team has had tremendous success too – and I’ve just been honoured to be involved with the group throughout that time, playing or not.”

There is also a nice dose of irony with where Pryce is making his return too: at the place where he enjoyed arguably the best years of his career as a near-untouchable stand-off.

“I’m going back to Saints in my return too which is nice,” he admits.

“I’ve got a fond place in my heart for them, the fans were amazing during my time there and I’ve got a great relationship with them. It’d be nice if I got one last chance to play at Langtree Park and play in front of the Saints faithful.”

Only two players have made more Grand Final appearances in the history of Super League than Pryce, and he insists any thoughts of pulling on the Bradford shirt will have to wait for a good few weeks yet – as he targets a key role in a potential assault at the treble for Hull.

“Before the Bradford move, I’ve got business to finish at Hull,” he says.

“The FC fans have been incredible with me and I can assure them that I’ll be giving my all for them between now and the last time I pull that shirt on.”

Pryce has stepped out on the Old Trafford turf seven times as a player: but you get the feeling that if he managed to do it for an eighth time, given how this year has gone, it would rank as one of the very best in such a stellar career that isn’t over just yet.