Stevie Ward defied the odds to feature in Leeds Rhinos' Super League Grand Final triumph and has been backed to take over the club captaincy by retiring icon Rob Burrow.
Burrow and current Leeds skipper Danny McGuire enjoyed glorious ends to their respective Rhinos careers on Saturday, the latter turning in a man-of-the-match display in a 24-6 victory over Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford.
While Burrow is hanging up his boots to take up a coaching role at Headingley, McGuire - Super League's record try-scorer - will continue his career at Hull KR in 2018.
That departure means Leeds will be looking for a new skipper and Burrow has talked up the credentials of Ward, who somehow played the full 80 minutes against Castleford just eight days after he had suffered a dislocated shoulder.
"I love Stevie Ward - he's an absolutely fantastic player, but a fantastic bloke as well," said Burrow. "Crazy things happen, don't they? He turned out there having been down and out, and put in a great performance. I'm so happy for him. He's a great bloke and I just love to see him do well."
Asked if Ward could succeed McGuire as the Rhinos' leader, Burrow added: "Yeah - I'm pretty sure that would be my pick, if you asked me.
"You either go with somebody who's been there a while, for the next couple of years, or you go for somebody long-term, a bit like Kev Sinfield. He wears that number 13 shirt and I'm sure he'd be a great captain."
That career-- Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 7, 2017
Harry Sunderland Trophies
World Club Challenges pic.twitter.com/X8Oft8jBeN
A Super League great, the diminutive Burrow ends his magnificent Leeds career having won eight Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenges.
Asked if he had any doubts over his decision to retire, the 35-year-old said: "No, I'm done. I've really enjoyed my career - I don't want to go on too long.
"I'm just really happy to go out like this. You usually think about your last game in the off-season if it's a poor one. The fact that we've won another trophy, I can live with that forever."