Rhinos star Ward cleared for remarkable Grand Final outing
Stevie Ward has been cleared to play for Leeds Rhinos against Castleford Tigers in Saturday's Super League Grand Final, just eight days after suffering a dislocated shoulder in his side's victory over Hull FC.
Ward, who missed Leeds' 2015 triumph at Old Trafford after rupturing knee ligaments in the final game of the regular season, looked certain to be ruled out when he underwent surgery last Saturday.
The back-row forward was a surprise inclusion in Leeds 19-man squad on Thursday, but head coach Brian McDermott maintained he was "unlikely to feature".
However, the club have now confirmed Ward has been declared fit to face the runaway winners of the League Leaders' Shield, much to the 23-year-old's delight.
Ward told the Rhinos' official website: "There was a dark few hours a week ago as I thought my season was over but I would like to say a massive thank you to the nurses, doctors and specialists who helped me.
"Our physio team at the Rhinos, Andy Barker and Ben Harper, have been brilliant with me this week to make sure that I am ready for a game as intense as a Grand Final."
McDermott added: "Stevie has had to pass every test we have put in front of him, which he has done, because he would not want to put the team at risk just so he could be at a Grand Final."
Castleford talisman Luke Gale told Omnisport Saturday's match, which is a sell-out, will be the "pinnacle" of his career.
"It's the biggest thing in rugby league so it's one I'm definitely looking forward to," added Gale, who was the hero of the Tigers' semi-final victory over St Helens.
Gale had his appendix removed just 16 days before the clash with Saints, but added: "It's all good. It's A1 really and I'm feeling good and I'm feeling positive.
"It means everything. We've got a great side here and it's been a truly amazing year and we don't want to finish yet, we want to finish on Saturday with a bit more silverware."