Behind the numbers – Craig Coleman – heritage number 1202

Craig Coleman in action against New Zealand for Leeds

To mark the 130th anniversary of the first ever game at Headingley, we recently launched a new celebration shirt which includes the names of every player that has played for the club since the establishment of the Northern Union in 1895.

The Leeds Rhinos Foundation Heritage Group traced every player who has made an appearance for the first team, and allocated them a chronological number going back to 1895. That has unearthed some fascinating stories and we are going to share some of those stories with you so you can look for the names on your shirt and realise the sacrifices those who came before us made to establish our great club.

Craig Coleman was exactly what Leeds needed in the 1989-90 season, a midfield general and organiser.

Stellar at South Sydney for whom he played 208 first grade games over a ten year period, still their fourth highest in history, he re-established a partnership with Gary Divorty at Headingley, which enable Dave Heron to move to stand off.

The pair had played together at Hull the season before and the tenacious scrum half also appeared for Widnes, briefly, and Salford. Coleman masterminded a 22-20 victory at Post Office Road on his debut – landing a drop goal – and was superb in the Regal Trophy, scoring one of his three tries in the first round win over Leigh. Bradford were beaten and, in the quarter final, the Loiners drew 10-all with Wigan at home.

In the replay, he had the best chance in the first half when intercepting but could not quite go the length of the field, the Loiners going down heroically 8-0 late on.

Defeat left concentration solely on the league and Colin Maskill’s 26 points – the highest ever against Leigh – and David Creassser’s 1,000th for the club ensured a scrappy 26-14 win on his final appearance in February 1990. In total he made 17 appearances for Leeds, scoring seven tries, 2 drop goals and 14 points.

Returning home, he played for Gold Coast and Wests before taking up the coaching reigns at Souths before and again after their initial exclusion from the NRL.