Ryan Bailey desperate to take his one last shot

Ryan Bailey will be the first to admit he isn’t a saint.

His talent never has and never will be doubted. Six Grand Final winners rings will ensure that his name will be etched in history and his legend will never be disputed.

But the one-time Leeds ace’s trophy-laden career has at times been overshadowed by external factors.

Off-field issues have left a blot on what is one of the most illustrious careers of the modern era.

Short spells at Castleford and Hull KR were shrouded in uncertainty. His time at Toronto overshadowed by his untimely departure on the eve of the season.
But now, the 33-year-old has been given one last shot at returning to the big time.

When Leigh Centurions came calling, Bailey knew he had no option.

His move to Workington Town had provided him with an opportunity to get his life back on track after being left to pick up the pieces after an incident in Portugal during Toronto’s training camp.

But Bailey isn’t one to hide away from his problems. Having been left to reflect on his latest misdemeanour, the veteran forward believes he can now prove that he’s learned from his mistakes.

“Off-field incidents in the past mean I’ve got to earn trust,” he said.

“Since the Toronto incident, I’ve changed a lot of things in my life. I’ve moved home. I’ve changed my lifestyle. You’ve got to grow up, haven’t you?

“I just think I’ve made a lot of mistakes off the field so I’ve changed my lifestyle and got out of that bad environment.

“You’ve got to learn how to deal with certain scenarios. For myself, some of the stuff that happened wasn’t great. I’ve got a new girlfriend now, a new family and a baby on the way. “It’s for them and the kids I’ve got already. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture and I’m doing that now.

“It’s taken me a while but I’m growing up. On the pitch I don’t think I’ve much to prove, I’m a consistent player and I know my ability.

“As soon as I pull that shirt on I’ll be the same player that I used to be. Off the pitch I’ve just toned it down, it’s good.”

Opening up for the first time since his departure from the Wolfpack, Bailey admitted that it forced him to reconsider things.

“It affected me a lot.

“I was having a good pre-season and I was really looking forward to the second season.

“It happened and I had to start from the bottom on and off the pitch. I went to Workington and now I’ve worked my way up to Leigh.

“I’ll never give up and I haven’t here, now there’s an opportunity and I’ll take it. Maybe Leigh and I can work our way up higher again.”

In saying that, Bailey hints at one last shot at the big time.

His last top-flight appearance was at Old Trafford with Warrington in 2016. While the prospect of a seventh Grand Final win might have been and gone, he’d still love one last hurrah.

“It would be great, wouldn’t it?

“I want to do good this year by Leigh and if we got promoted that would be a dream. We’ll see what the year brings, but it would be ace to get back to Super League, it would be a dream to retire there if we could do that.

“Age is just a number. I feel really fit within myself, my form is good and there’s no reason why I can’t have a few more years.”