Leeds coach Richard Agar says he will be “forever grateful” for the input Stevie Ward made to the Rhinos during his time at the club.
Last week Ward announced his immediate retirement from the game at the age of 27 due to long-term concussions.
Agar was made permanent head coach of the Rhinos in September 2019, and Agar says Ward helped him massively during his time at Headingley.
Agar said: “Early on (in my time here) in a team meeting, I felt that we had a really smart and experienced player sat in the room who was pretty quiet.
“I asked him a couple of questions and I could see he wasn’t happy with the way things were in the squad and the club at that time so I spent a bit of time with Stevie going through what we would need to reboot and regenerate the squad a bit, and Stevie was very much a catalyst in that.
“Jamie Jones-Buchanan at the time assumed a fair amount of responsibility and helped drive some of the changes we felt we needed to make at the time. For me personally, I’ll forever be grateful for his (Stevie) input at that time.”
Just want to thank everyone who has taken their time out to send me their messages and support. It’s truly humbling and appreciated. pic.twitter.com/Wl6QHPzZdM
— Stevie Ward (@Ste_Ward) January 7, 2021
Ward made 136 appearances for the Rhinos between 2012-20, winning three Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and a League Leaders’ Shield during that period.
Agar continued: “He was a player that whenever he stepped over the stride he gave you absolutely everything.
“He was 100 miles per hour in everything he did. He competed really hard and was really tough. The fact he has had to retire at 27-year-old is a little bit of a tragedy to be fair.
“What I will say is what he’s achieved in those nine seasons some people can only dream about.
“He’s captained his hometown club, he’s played in Grand Finals, winning a Grand Final is remarkable story in itself and he has played in Challenge Cup wins. Even though he is relatively young to be retiring, Stevie has had a career in which he has achieved many, many highs.”
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