LEEDS Rhinos' former captain Stevie Ward has announced his retirement from the sport aged just 27 - after playing only one game last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms.

He was out of contract with Leeds during the close season and has now taken the difficult decision to retire.

Ward made his Leeds debut as a teenager back in 2012, featuring in a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in his first season.

He was part of the Leeds team that won the Grand Final that year. He won the Challenge Cup in 2015, adding League Leaders Shield honours later that year. Unfortunately, a knee injury suffered in that game side lined Ward for a year and prevented him playing in the Treble winning Grand Final at Old Trafford.

However, he added a second Grand Final winners ring in 2017 with a heroic performance. In total, he made 136 appearances for the club, scoring 23 tries.

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar said: “It is always disappointing when any player is forced to retire from the game prematurely due to injury but especially so when it is someone with so much talent and potential as Stevie Ward.

"I know that our medical team have worked tirelessly with Stevie this year to try and find a positive outcome however unfortunately Stevie has now taken the difficult decision to begin the next stage of his journey after rugby.

"On a personal level, when I became Head Coach back in 2018, Stevie was one of the senior players who was a catalyst for change and getting the club back to our core values.

"Having made Stevie our captain a year ago, personally it is sad to see his career end this way but I am sure he will continue his work with Mantality and bring the same level of professionalism and expertise to his future work that he has shown on the field throughout his career.”