Will Pryce’s father Leon makes emotional admission as NRL debut looms

George Riley
Will and Leon Pryce

Rising star Will Pryce has earned his shot at the top in the “cut-throat” world of the NRL, as the 21-year-old prepares for his Newcastle Knights debut this weekend against Parramatta.

That’s the view of his proud father, rugby league legend Leon Pryce, who has paid an emotional tribute to his son ahead of Saturday’s game.

Knights boss Adam O’Brien has handed Pryce his first start with just ten games of his debut NRL season to go, with the stand-off set to partner another former Super League star Jackson Hastings in the halves.

Former St Helens and Bradford great Leon is flying out for the game at McDonald Jones Stadium, and speaking exclusively to Love Rugby League, has praised the bravery and work ethic of his son in earning his opportunity.

“Hard work pays off, 100 per cent and sometimes the joy is in the struggle and the hard work,” Leon told Love Rugby League.

“This is a different competition to Super League, it is a cut-throat business out there. Half-back is a position that is very, very difficult in the NRL. For me he has already won because he has had a go at something that is very difficult.

“There are always going to be doubters, people who knock you, people who try to pull you down. But to go out there and have such a good go at it at a young age he has already won in my eyes.”


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17 tries in 45 appearances for the Huddersfield Giants brought England Knights honours for a teenage Pryce who was knocking on the senior England door when the NRL came calling.

But while international team-mate Kai Pearce-Paul has been able to make an immediate senior impact in Australia, Pryce has had to be far more patient – an experience that has seen him mature very quickly as a man and a player according to his dad.

“Being in those places, on the other side of the world without his family, playing in the reserves and learning his trade, working things out on his own – that is not an easy position but one that is good for someone to grow up really quickly,” said Leon.

“To be thrown in the deep end on the other side of the world on your own as a man is difficult. But that is when you grow. He’s happy, he’s been waiting a while to be given an opportunity. He has worked hard to get into this position and been patient. It has not been easy, which has been a good thing for him.

“He will have a mixture of nerves, excitement and is champing at the bit to have a go. Let’s hope he just believes in himself and backs himself because these opportunities don’t always come around. We love him and have his back no matter what happens and that is all we are bothered about.”

Newcastle fans have shared the excitement at Pryce getting his shot at the number 6 shirt, but for the family Will has already proven himself as a winner no matter what happens on the field.

“We have lots of different emotions and feelings but this is a good opportunity for him,” Leon added.

“As a dad I am proud of him to take on this challenge and go for something in the most difficult, toughest, hardest competition in the world with such a big pool of unbelievable players at a young age.

“I’m really proud that he has taken on this challenge head on and had a go at it. He could have stayed in Super League and tried it out over here but he has gone for the hardest task out there which is the NRL at a young age. Whatever happens, his family is so proud of him and that is the main thing.

“He will put all his hard work into that shirt now. We will always be there to support him, always have been and always will be.”


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