Assessing Richie Myler’s new contract at Leeds Rhinos and why it makes sense for both parties

Since walking through the doors at Headingley in the winter of 2017, Richie Myler has had to show immense character.

He was joining the Super League Champions, inherited Rob Burrow’s number seven jersey following his retirement and was tasked with replacing another Leeds legend in the shape of Danny McGuire by stepping into the halves alongside Joel Moon.

People forget how well he initially handled the lofty expectations which came with his arrival. Crowned Leeds’ Player of the Year in 2018, Myler started the season brilliantly even being nominated for the Super League Player of the Month in March following his first Leeds try in victory at St Helens and assists galore.

Despite his positive start, and Leeds’ initial signs of early promise, things fell apart mid-season for the Rhinos as they slipped into a relegation battle. However, despite the difficulties Leeds faced week on week, Myler remained determined and constantly gave 100% helping guide the Rhinos to survival.

That demonstrated his strength of character as well as his status as a top professional which he himself would have to lean on two years later in 2020. Going into that season, he’d lost the number seven shirt to Luke Gale and was no longer seen as a starting halfback at Headingley. It was expected he’d leave at the end of that season.

However, Myler never kicked up a fuss showing the professionalism he brings to the Rhinos and knuckled down learning a number of new positions starting the year at hooker before filling the void left by the injured Jack Walker. Since then he’s shone in the role developing into one of the best yet most underrated fullbacks in the league.

He won the Lance Todd trophy as Leeds won the Challenge Cup in 2020 before notching up a combined total of over 20 tries and assists in 2021 demonstrating his importance to the Leeds attack. On the back of those two seasons he’s now earnt a new deal which sees him remain at the club until the end of the 2024 campaign.

At 31 years of age, 32 in May, some might be surprised by the new deal. Not so much at the fact Leeds wish to keep him beyond 2022 but rather the length of his new contract. By the time it comes to an end, Myler will be 34 leaving some surprised that he was rewarded with three more years.

However, the deal makes a lot of sense for both Myler and the Rhinos. From Myler’s perspective, he’s evidently delighted to have secured his future at the club he loves. He said in an interview with the Rhinos’ website this morning: “I’m over the moon to be fair. I’ve had a fair few clubs in my time and I really feel like I’ve found a home here at Leeds. I’m just delighted that the club have showed the faith in me and the trust in me. I’m loving it.

“I’ve really found a home here and I think we’ve embraced the city as a family. I’m really enjoying it. It’s the best club I’ve ever been at.”

But what about the club themselves? As aforementioned, Myler is clearly a brilliant professional, one who simply gets on with the job he’s asked to do. Even when he’s left out of the side he doesn’t kick up a fuss like he could have done at the start of 2020. Instead he knuckles down and does what’s best for the team like learning a new position as he did with the fullback role.

That kind of role model is exactly what Leeds need right now with so many exciting youngsters coming through the ranks at Headingley. Ensuring a character like Myler is around the training field for the next three years and potentially beyond will be vital to the development of guys like Morgan Gannon, Jack Broadbent and Levi Edwards.

Furthermore, the versatility he’s built into his game over the last two seasons provides cover over a number of key positions. Now adept at fullback, he could be said to be Leeds’ first choice in the position going into 2022, although Jack Walker might have something to say about that, but with years of experience in the halves he could easily slot into six or seven as he did at times last season to good effect. He also has experience playing hooker having come off the bench in that role consistently at the beginning of 2020.

The ability to cover so many important positions as well as being a leader and a great role model to the youngsters at the club makes him exactly the player Leeds will want at the club long term especially as a new era at Headingley beckons.

It seems Rhinos boss Richard Agar shares this viewpoint as well stating on the Rhinos’ website: “I am really pleased for Richie that he has agreed this new deal. A couple of seasons ago, he found himself at a crossroads and he has reinvented himself and taken on a number of roles within our squad. He is an important player for us at full back, as we saw with his Lance Todd trophy-winning performance in 2020, but he also brings versatility in a number of key positions. He has evolved into a great team player and a real clubman. He has settled into life at the Rhinos and I know he calls Leeds his home now and this is a just reward for his hard work and effort.”

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