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“I am starting to believe” – former Leeds Rhinos skipper Stevie Ward provides encouraging update after two years with concussion

By the time Leeds begin their 2022 campaign against Warrington in front of the Channel 4 cameras on February 12th, it’ll be two years and 10 days or 741 days in total since Stevie Ward led Leeds out as first team captain in a competitive fixture for both the first and last time.

Awarded the captain’s armband following the departure of Trent Merrin at the end of 2019, Ward fulfilled a childhood ambition against Hull FC on February 2nd 2020 and, about to head into his prime years as an athlete, he was set to be key to the new era at Headingley having already played a big role in the success of the Golden Generation.

But that game against Hull FC would end up being the last of his career as he sustained a serious concussion which still makes his life difficult today nearly two years removed from the incident.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ward would then have to watch as the new skipper Luke Gale lifted the Challenge Cup trophy fulfilling his own childhood dreams, dreams Ward himself most likely shared. However, that may have been at the back of his mind as he continued to face dizzy spells and awful migraines day to day in a year already made tough by the pandemic.

He even struggled to return to Headingley to watch Leeds defeat Huddersfield last season as the Rhinos welcomed home another hero in the shape of Rob Burrow. In the Sky Sports documentary about Ward’s life with concussion, Ward attempted to cheer on his home town team but the noise was too much for him and he was forced to leave the stadium early in Leeds’ 18-12 triumph.

That documentary showcased just how difficult Ward’s life had become in the years since his playing career ended and the former second-rower outlined his own fears that he may never truly be better.

However, the festive period seems to have refreshed him with the former Leeds captain taking to Twitter to post an encouraging message that will no doubt have brought smiles to the faces of Leeds and rugby league fans alike.

The post read: “For the first time in two years I am starting to believe I am going to get better. Here is to everyone celebrating with family, in the now. Here’s to an amazing 2022.”

It certainly will be an amazing 2022 for Ward if he can overcome the struggles he’s faced over the last 24 months and the rugby league world no doubt wishes him well.

His former club will also be hoping for an amazing 2022 themselves and their preparations get underway today as they take on Wakefield in a festive friendly. Ward last played in the fixture back in December 2019 leading the side out as captain for the first time since being officially awarded the armband.

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