Leeds Rhinos have put faith in Stevie Ward by signing him to a five year deal, and giving him the iconic number 13 jersey vacated by Kevin Sinfield.
Fifteen years after Sinfield first donned the famous blue and amber shirt, Ward will now take the same jersey that has also been worn by former Great Britain internationals Mike Forshaw, Iestyn Harris and Darryl Powell.
The news comes as a massive boost to Ward, who is set to have surgery today on a knee injury sustained in Leeds’ dramatic League Leaders Shield title-winning match against Huddersfield.
Despite his young age, Ward has already made 82 appearances for this year’s treble winners and is highly-regarded by coach Brian McDermott.
“I am really pleased for Stevie,” said McDermott.
“He thoroughly deserves his new contract and the number 13 squad number. Inevitably people will talk about taking over from Kevin in that number but Stevie is a different player and person and the pressure he puts on himself to perform for Leeds every time he steps on the field will not change just because he is wearing 13 instead of 14.”