Legendary rugby league commentator Mike Stephenson, more commonly known as ‘Stevo’, has praised Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Officer Gary Hetherington, saying that he should be even higher up in the game than he currently is.
Castleford-born Hetherington played close to 300 professional games in his own career, and played a key role in forming the first-ever players’ trade union. Alongside wife Kath, he would go on to form Sheffield Eagles, a club they’d sell in 1996 when he linked up with businessman Paul Caddick to take a role up in the hierarchy at Headingley.
Hetherington played a vital part in adding the ‘Rhinos’ tagline to Leeds’ name a year later, and overwhelming success followed, culminating in him being named the President of the RFL in 2004.
In recent times, with performances on the pitch faltering, and numerous issues off the pitch at Headingley coming to light, he’s come under fire from the club’s supporters, but speaking on his and Eddie Hemmings’ podcast this week, Stevo gave the Rhinos chief his backing.
Stevo sings praises of Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington
Hetherington’s name cropped up during the podcast with discussions around Tom Burgess’ potential move back to Super League.
He has been linked with a move to Leeds, something which was no surprise to Stevo, who said: “It’s simple, they’ve got the best organisation.
“They’ve got Gary Hetherington, who in my mind should be running rugby league full stop, but knowing Gary, he’d probably say to to you ‘I’ve got a nice job at Leeds’.
“He does a great job. This man has got rugby league running through his veins, he is the best organiser, he’s the best PR person, and he’s just unbelievable.
“He just knows how to get a good player. He doesn’t always get them, but I’ll tell you what, he’s always in the mix.”
Legendary commentator urges rugby league fans to take rumours with a pinch of salt
It’s not yet known whether Burgess will in fact follow brother Sam in returning back to England. The prop recently signed a new deal with current club South Sydney Rabbitohs down under.
CEO Hetherington recently issued a ‘recruitment promise’ to Rhinos supporters for 2024 after the poor year they’ve had this term so far.
Former Sky Sports man Stevo urged fans not to get on the back of chiefs like Hetherington if things don’t go to plan on the recruitment front, and instead actually carried out some self-reflection as a journalist.
He added: “It’s people like you and me that confuse the fans. They say ‘oh, well he must be coming because Eddie and Stevo said so!’
“I can’t believe there’s so many people out there that actually believe what we come out with!
“That’s why I love rugby league. You and I are steeped in it, we worked together for a long, long time, and we love it. That’s the reason why we can talk like this now, because that’s what rugby league fans want to talk about.
“We may throw something out into the open, that’s journalism, and it will never ever change. You’re listening to two guys who just love rugby league. We try our best to give you inside information, but it’s not always right.”