Debut: Vs Bradford Northern (H) 22nd September 1995
Honours: Grand Final (Winner: 2004; Finalist: 2005), Challenge Cup (Winner: 1999; Finalist: 2000, 2003), World Club (Winner: 2005), League Leaders’ Shield (2004)
283 appearances, 40 tries, 160 points between 1995-2005
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019
It is exceedingly rare that a true South Stand hero comes from outside the club’s local juniors, someone who is not ‘one of our own.’ It is even more unusual when they win over the Headingley cognoscenti and are born and bred ‘over the hill.’ Add in the fact that, historically, Leeds’s Achilles heel has been deemed to be a perceived soft underbelly in the engine room – a lack of those who intimidate the opposition just by the sight of their name on a team sheet – and his presence rectified that.
Snared from Wigan for £100,000, a knee injury restricted him to 17 minutes on debut, but not finishing games led to him becoming something of a cause celebre – and to joking of him having his own car parking space on disciplinary nights at Red Hall – but that was all part of the allure. A true cult figure and deservedly so based on his aggressive, impassioned displays, he was so much more than that with the traditional stock in trade of the role, a wonderful slipped pass. He also possessed that other characteristic quality for a rugby league player of the highest calibre, the ability to overcome adversity – his career so nearly ended before it began after an accident aged 15.
Similarly, many forget that in the year before he played a leading role in the 1999 cup triumph, he was on loan at Bramley regaining his fitness and form after a badly broken leg.A noted firebrand, he loved nothing more than tangling with the Aussies and it was fitting that he ended his glorious career by becoming the first player in Rhinos’ history to win the League Leaders shield, Challenge Cup, Super League and the World Club Challenge.
Having toured New Zealand with BARLA Youth in 1991, he subsequently earned 15 caps for Great Britain and a similar number for Ireland, whom he represented at the 2000 World Cup, as well as one for England.
Arriving at Headingley at the turbulent start to the Super League era, he became a vital link in helping bring through the current ‘golden generation’, establishing them with the tools to become winners.Following an outstanding playing career that also included home town Oldham and Widnes, he worked as head of youth development at the Rhinos before launching a media career of note, leaving after 20 years at Headingley.
His autobiography, Made for Rugby, published in 2004 – became the best-selling rugby league book. The first player of the modern era to be included in the Hall of Fame.