Stevie Ward has admitted that choosing to play for Leeds Rhinos instead of taking part in the England Academy tour of Australia was the toughest decision he has ever made.
The Rhinos, who are 6/4 with bookmaker to win the Challenge Cup next month, believe the youngster is capable of stepping into the boots of the legendary Kevin Sinfield.
He was selected for the England squad but has chosen to forfeit his place as he bids to cement a spot in the first team at Leeds.
“Withdrawing from the tour is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. There is so much I’ll miss out on in Australia but potentially so much to gain by staying with Leeds, particularly if I’m able to earn a place in the side for the Challenge Cup Final,” said Ward.
“The semi-final against Wigan was a real highlight for me and easily the biggest match I’ve ever played in. The atmosphere at the match was great and, though I was a little nervous before the game, I think it helped to bring the best out of me.”