Leeds and England wheelchair star James Simpson announces retirement

Josh McAllister
James Simpson. PA

England's James Simpson scores a try during the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup semi-final match. Picture by Richard Sellers/PA Wire/PA Images.

Leeds wheelchair captain and England star James Simpson has announced his retirement from the sport after a 10-year career.

The Leeds-born player made his debut for the Rhinos in 2012 and played in seven Grand Finals, winning the titles in 2018 and 2021.

He also captained the side to three Challenge Cup victories and the League Leaders’ Shield in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

For England, Simpson won 31 caps on the international stage. He featured in the 2017 World Cup and was a part of the tournament-winning team at the delayed 2021 campaign on home soil. He was also the RLWC2021’s wheelchair ambassador.

Simpson will now join the wheelchair coaching staff at Leeds.

James Simpson announces retirement

He said: “I made the decision a few years ago that I would retire from playing after ten years.

“I was in the army for 10 years and I played for 10 years and I just thought now would be a good time for a new challenge. 

“After waking up the next day after the World Cup final, I called my partner and I felt such a sense of fulfilment and I knew I’d made the right decision to end my playing career and now it’s time to move on to something else.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been part of my journey as a player. 

“I’ve been really lucky to be an ambassador for the World Cup and to have a voice in the game. Over the last 10 years I have seen the game grow so much, from playing in little sports halls to playing on the big stage in front of 5,000 people.

“I’m stepping away at a time where I’ve seen the game reach these heights and I’m proud to have played a part in that and hopefully I’ve had an impact as an ambassador.

“I’ve seen the Rhinos go from losing every game we’ve ever played to winning the treble. So it’s has been great being part of a team that’s gone from rock bottom to being a challenger every year.

“It’s been an honour to represent my home city and to play alongside some great players. It’s been such an amazing ride and I’m so proud of everything I and the club have achieved and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.

“I will be staying on as a coach and doing some stuff behind the scenes, doing what I can to make the Rhinos team even bigger and better.

“I’m really looking forward to moving into the coaching role more full-time and the chance to not just focus on the Super League team, but also dedicating time to the second team we’ve got now as we grow the sport.”

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