DFP – Head Script

Ever popular prop Masella catches up with Gary in Australia

4th December 2015 | 12:00 am

By Leeds Rhinos

Nearly 20 years since he became one of Gary Hetherington’s first signings for the club, prop Martin Masella has meet up with the Rhinos Chief Executive in Sydney to receive his heritage number.

WP – In Article MPU

Nearly 20 years since he became one of Gary Hetherington’s first signings for the club, prop Martin Masella has meet up with the Rhinos Chief Executive in Sydney to receive his heritage number.

Martin, who has been awarded heritage number 1291, joined the Rhinos in December 1996 and played for the club for three seasons. In 1998 he became the club’s top prop when he only missed one game. 

With his hard, direct running style putting the opposition on the back foot from the first minute. He played in the 1998 Grand Final alongside Darren Fleary however the following year Barrie McDermott had worked his way back into the side and Martin missed out on the Cup Final at Wembley. In total Martin played 77 times for the Rhinos and scored 14 tries making his debut against Whitehaven in the opening game of the 1997 season.

In his early years Martin Masella was regarded as one of the best props in the Sydney competition however question marks over his temperament dogged his early career which saw him moved from Balmain after three seasons, to Illawarra for a season and then to South Sydney. 

However, he did manage to make over 60 first grade appearances in Australia. Whilst at Illawarra he played under Graham Murray, so his former boss had no hesitation in bringing him to Leeds. He appeared for Tonga in the 1995 and 1999 World Cup.

The Leeds Rhinos Foundation Heritage Committee recently completed the task of giving a unique number to every player who has made a single appearance for the club, going back to the first game in the Northern Union, staged at Leigh on 7th September 1895.

In total, 1,419 men have worn the famous colours from Bob Armstrong in that first match, through to recent signing Mitch Garbutt.

Other notable numbers are; Bob Walton, who scored the first try at Headingley in the Northern Union (14), Joseph Aloysius Lavery (215), the club’s first overseas signing, First World War hero Samuel ‘Billy’ Jarman (225), Arthur Clues (847), Benjamin Lewis Jones (896), leading appearance-maker John Holmes (1022) and Garry Schofield (1183). Number 1,000 is Syd Hynes, the first-ever player/coach at Leeds, who won every medal with the club and recently received his certificate at the Players Association's Annual Lunch having flown in for the occasion from his home in Perth in Australia.

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