Debut: Vs St Helens (H) 11th April 1997
Honours: Grand Final (Finalist: 1998), Challenge Cup (Winner: 1999; Finalist: 2000)
The opening season of Super League, 1996, was an ‘annus horribilis’ for Leeds who just avoided relegation and bankruptcy. With a new regime at the helm, they needed a gesture of intent and splashed out a club record fee of over £350,000 to bring teenage prodigy Iestyn Harris in from the cold at Warrington.
It proved to be a masterstroke, not least when combined with making him captain aged 21 and the tactic of starting games with him at full back and then moving him to stand off to destroy sides. A magnificent kicker, who still holds the club record for goals-in-a-game, he was Rhinos Player of the Year on an unprecedented three consecutive occasions from 1998-2000 such was his dominance.
His ability to release a long pass with exocet accuracy marked him out as one of the best ball distributors in either code. In essence, he was two players for the price of one which made the fee Leeds paid Warrington for him in April 1997 look like an absolute bargain.
A safe and inventive guardian at the back whose incursions into the line created havoc, he was also an electrifying stand off orchestrating the waves of Rhino charges with the ball as his baton.
Graham Murray’s decision to make him captain at the beginning of 1998 was a masterstroke, the proud Welsh wizard thriving on the added responsibility in a series of consistently sensational displays that saw him named ‘Man of Steel’ and both fellow players, club and supporters ‘Player of the Year’. Then in 1999, he had the distinction of being the first Leeds leader for twenty one years to mount the steps at Wembley to collect the coveted Challenge Cup.
He stayed a Rhino until 2001, taking the club back to the Challenge Cup final in 2000, which they lost 24-18 to Bradford Bulls. He announced he would be joining Welsh Rugby Union for 2002, prompting Leeds to sign Ben Walker from the NRL.