Stevie Ward has been absent from the Leeds Rhinos squad since April 2013, but could return for the season opener, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Ward dislocated his shoulder during the Rhinos last visit to Hull KR's Craven Park but looks set to return for this years season opener at the East Yorkshire ground.
The YEP are reporting Ward has been working on his fitness and conditioning before the start of the new season, setting the game at Craven Park as his goal.
He told the publication: “I have something to work towards, but with the season as close as it is it is going to come up very quickly...I wanted to have a goal in my mind to work towards with my diet and training and the mental aspects – so I can think positively about that..Hopefully it will all come together and I can get back on the field.”
The Rhinos will be hopeful of a return for Ward after such a long spell on the sidelines and hope the loose forward’s fitness will help with their depth.
The Leeds side had a disappointing season by their high standards struggling to make either of the big finals, but with the Rhino’s players who featured in the world cup kicked on by the national teams performance the SouthStanders at Headingly can expect big things for the team.
England’s star performer Ryan Hall has expressed his desire to keep his place in the England squad with three internationals scheduled for the end of the year.
“Hopefully I retain my place in the England squad at the end of the year and do my best for the team, because wing has developed into a key position now. For Leeds this year I just want to do my job and hopefully – with the squad we’ve got now – play every week.”
Fellow England winger Tom Briscoe also joins the Rhinos ahead of the new season and Hall admitted the added competition will help push the team on.
“It will be nice to have that competition, that’s what the squad needs….Having good players vying for the same spot brings the best out of them and it’s good to be in and around that environment.”
The season kicks off on Sunday the 16th of February with the rhinos hopeful Ward will be fit for the season opening clash with Hull KR.
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