FORMER Newton schoolboy and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has been appointed as the new President of the Rugby Football League.

Following an RFL council meeting in Huddersfield earlier this month, Mr Burnham, was appointed as the new President succeeding the outgoing Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE RAF.

Starting the post in July 2018, former Leigh MP Andy who is an avid Rugby League fan and Honorary Vice President at Leigh Centurions, was elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017.

Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001 until he was elected to the mayoral role. In government, Andy held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury and in 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to the Department for Health as Secretary of State in 2009.

After his appointment at the RFL, the former St Aelred's schoolboy, who presented Saints with the Challenge Cup as guest of honour at Wembley in 2008, said: “Being asked to represent the proud sport of Rugby League is one of the greatest honours I’ve ever been given.

“Over the years, my love of the game has grown and grown – as a sometime player, a touchline dad and an avid supporter of Leigh Centurions.

"At a time when other sports have become more detached from their communities, rugby league remains rooted in theirs and that community spirit is its great strength.

“I believe Rugby League has huge untapped potential. It is a fantastic sport that builds teamwork, promotes strength of character and brings communities together.

"This passion needs to be nurtured if we are to develop this great game from grassroots upwards and encourage more people, particularly our younger generation, to get involved.

“I will seek to use my time in the privileged position of President to raise the profile of the sport in any way I can.”