Former Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has retired from rugby league at just 27 due to the effects of concussions.

The forward, twice a Grand Final winner and a three-time Super League champion overall, sustained head injuries in January and February last year.

Ward says he still suffers daily symptoms and that the concussions "completely derailed plans and my ambitions".

He told Sky Sports News that he has suffered "one of the hardest years I've ever experienced".

Ward said: "[I have experienced] symptoms like migraines every day, balance and dizziness issues, sensitivity to light, screens and slurring my speech sometimes."

In a statement confirming his retirement, Ward said: "I have come to the conclusion, after over 11 months of severe symptoms, that I need to give this injury the respect and time it deserves and cannot put my health and brain to any further risk and detriment.

"I love the game of rugby league. I am immensely proud to have competed on some of the biggest stages next to childhood heroes and test myself to the absolute limit while feeling the incredible buzz from the Leeds fans after being one myself as a youngster.

"I thank every player that I have played with and against, and I am especially grateful for the incredible friendships the sport has given me.

"It is fair to say that my career has been only partly what I envisioned as a young fan stood in the South Stand, but I can honestly say it has surpassed my expectations in terms of how it has shaped me to become the person I am."

Discussions over the long-term effects of head injuries in rugby and football have risen to the fore again in recent weeks.

Temporary substitutions for head injuries are being trialled in some football competitions, including the FA Cup and Premier League. In rugby union, former World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who has early onset dementia and cannot recall winning the global trophy in 2003, is one of eight players reportedly planning to take legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Sam Tomkins delivered a sensational performance as Catalans Dragons set up a Super League semi-final clash with St Helens by seeing off Leeds Rhinos 26-14 on Friday. 

Tomkins' superb run from deep inside Catalans' half got the French side up and running in Warrington, the former Wigan Warrior keeping his composure to play in Tom Davies. 

The Dragons’ full-back then teed up Samisoni Langi and Israel Folau, who reeled in a high kick before twisting over the line, as the Dragons raced into an 18-0 lead. 

However, the Rhinos hit back either side of half-time thanks to tries from Alex Sutcliffe and Liam Sutcliffe, yet David Mead wrapped up the win for Catalans before Konrad Hurrell's late consolation. 

James Maloney was in fine form with the boot for the Dragons, converting all four tries prior to sending a late penalty over, pushing his team into the last four for the first time in six years. 

They will now face defending Super League champions Saints for a place in the Grand Final, which will take place at KCOM Stadium in Hull on November 27. 

Castleford Tigers' Super League matches against Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils have been cancelled after another four players tested positive for coronavirus.

The Tigers' clash with Huddersfield Giants last Friday was called off after testing revealed 13 players had contracted COVID-19.

Castleford will also be unable to fulfil their fixtures with the Rhinos on Friday and Salford next Monday due to another four members of their squad testing positive.

The Rugby Football League's Multiple Cases Group has extended the shutdown of the Yorkshire club following the latest positive results.

A decision over whether Castleford's scheduled round 22 encounter with Wakefield Trinity will go ahead has not yet been made, with two more rounds of testing set to be carried out this week.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Super League schedule, but Catalans Dragons are back in action at Salford on Monday.

Ash Handley scored a double as the depleted Leeds Rhinos gained revenge over Wakefield Trinity with a 20-18 win to boost their chances of making the Super League play-offs.

Wakefield beat the Rhinos convincingly on Thursday, but the Challenge Cup winners responded with a hard-fought away victory just three days later to sit well poised in fifth place.

Leeds were missing the likes of Konrad Hurrell, Matt Prior, Richie Myler and Tom Briscoe, who were self-isolating due to positive coronavirus tests at Castleford Tigers, but came out on top in their fourth match in the space of 10 days.

Captain Handley crossed twice in the first half either side of scores from Lee Kershaw and Joe Westerman on a miserable afternoon in West Yorkshire.

Handley laid on a try for Liam Sutcliffe just before the break and although Innes Senior dotted down to put Trinity in front, Brad Dwyer finished nine minutes from time and Rhyse Martin converted to win it for the Rhinos.

Leeds edged it despite running out of substitutes and having to keep injured players on the field with head coach Richard Agar down to the bare bones.

Max Jowitt scored a first-half hat-trick as Wakefield Trinity blew Leeds Rhinos away to claim a third straight Super League win on Thursday.

A miserable nine-game league losing streak following the competition's return in August had left Wakefield bottom, but they have responded in style.

Trinity moved off the foot of the table with a big win over Hull KR last time out, inspired by three tries from Ben Jones-Bishop, and this time it was Jowitt's turn in a stunning 30-6 success.

Leeds were without four players stood down amid previous opponents Castleford Tigers' coronavirus outbreak, but Jowitt showed little sympathy.

He went through after 11 minutes and then again 11 minutes later, with David Fifita also on the scoresheet before his hat-trick was completed on the stroke of half-time.

The Rhinos belatedly got off the mark with Ash Handley's score just after the hour mark, but Innes Senior added two late tries to complete a dominant victory.

Hull FC are hot on Leeds' heels as the pair chase the top four and a play-off place after beating Hull KR 31-16.

Rovers have replaced Wakefield in 11th place and folded after initially matching their rivals stride for stride.

Hull FC twice saw first-half tries and successful conversions cancelled out at the other end, but they forged ahead with tries from Ratu Naulago and Ligi Sao.

Bureta Faraimo's second score just after the restart appeared to put the result beyond doubt and Naulago soon doubled his own tally, making Rovers' late response a mere consolation.

Krisnan Inu and Rhyse Martin both scored late tries as Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos earned victories over St Helens and Castleford Tigers respectively in Monday's Super League games.

In a repeat of last season's Grand Final, Saints fielded an inexperienced side, naming five debutants with one eye on their forthcoming derby with Wigan, but the gamble backfired as they suffered a 12-10 defeat.

A try from Josh Eaves and three successful kicks from Lewis Dodd had given Saints a 10-0 lead as the leaders went in search of an 11th victory on the spin.

But Salford roared back with a try from Pauli Pauli before Inu muscled his way over the line before converting his own try to secure the win.

Martin's converted try ensured Leeds clinched a 28-24 Yorkshire derby win despite a late Castleford fightback with Oliver Holmes shown a red card for the Tigers.

Tries from Ava Seumanufagai, Luke Gale, Liam Sutcliffe and Tom Briscoe proved decisive for Leeds, as a late penalty score for Castleford was supplemented by two tries from Greg Eden plus one from Liam Watts.

Leeds – who are chasing a play-off spot – sit fifth in the standings, with two games against Wakefield Trinity to come this week.

Josh Simm and Bevan French scored hat-tricks for St Helens and Wigan Warriors in respective hammerings of Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils in Super League on Friday. 

Leeds defeated Salford to win the Challenge Cup last weekend but only four of that side were involved as the Rhinos were outclassed 40-8 by a Saints side who are closing on a third straight League Leaders' Shield.  

All of Simm's tries came in the first half with Zeb Taia also dotting down as Saints went into the break 22-0 ahead. 

Leeds showed some improvement after the restart with Cameron Smith crossing, but Theo Fages, Kevin Naiqama and Aaron Smith all scored for Saints before Liam Tindall's late try added a shred more respectability for the Rhinos.  

Wigan are second in the table and routed Salford 58-12 with Sam Powell and French going over twice and Liam Farrell scoring a try in a dominant first half in which Kallum Watkins replied for Salford. 

Jackson Hastings, Oliver Gildart and Farrell all scored for the Warriors after Tui Lolohea had cut Wigan's lead, before French completed his hat-trick and Gildart had a second in a comprehensive triumph. 

Leeds Rhinos won their first Challenge Cup in five years after Luke Gale's late drop-goal secured a 17-16 win over Salford Red Devils on Saturday. 

Tries from Tom Briscoe and Ash Handley, both converted by Rhyse Martin, helped Leeds to a 12-6 half-time lead, with Rhys Williams' score giving Salford hope ahead of the second period. 

They built on that after the break as Pauli Pauli and James Greenwood crossed to put them ahead before the hour mark. 

Handley's second try pulled Leeds level before Gale slotted over the winning one-pointer with just four minutes remaining. 

Leeds head coach Richard Agar told the BBC: "Luke's come up with a massive play for us. I'm so proud of everything that they've cultivated and nurtured in the group. We weren't perfect but we showed resilience when we had to."

Salford head coach Ian Watson said: "There were small margins. The boys didn't lack effort; they were just not smart enough. Luke Gale took his opportunity when it came. It's disappointing with the history surrounding the Challenge Cup, because winning it is a special thing."

Warrington Wolves moved into Super League's top four by defeating an inexperienced Leeds Rhinos side, while Hull KR overcame Salford Red Devils in a game that was delayed as both clubs awaited coronavirus test results.

With the Rhinos focusing their attention on Saturday's Challenge Cup final against Salford, a youthful line-up selected by head coach Richard Agar suffered a 32-6 defeat against Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Sam Walters restored parity after Toby King marked his 100th appearance for the Wolves with the first try of the game, with Stefan Ratchford's penalty the difference between the two teams at half-time.

However, the Wolves' experience told and a double from Matty Ashton sandwiched scores for Ben Currie and Daryl Clark in what ended up being a comfortable win.

Kick-off in Tuesday's first game between Rovers and Salford was pushed back by an hour just 90 minutes before kick-off after two players from each side returned inconclusive coronavirus tests, while the Red Devils confirmed two positive results earlier in the day.

The struggling Robins led for a fourth time when Jordan Abdull went over but Ed Chamberlain missed a conversion that would have put Salford in front after he touched down in the 77th minute.

However, Jamie Ellis scored a last-minute penalty after Pauli Pauli's high tackle on Matt Parcell to seal a 24-22 success, with Salford dropping to ninth as a result.

Marc Sneyd split the posts with a late penalty to give Hull FC an 18-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants in the day's other game.

Ash Handley scored a hat-trick as Leeds Rhinos beat Hull FC 40-22 after Krisnan Inu claimed a treble for in-form Salford Red Devils in a defeat of Huddersfield Giants on Thursday.

Handley is the leading try-scorer in Super League this season after taking his tally to 12 in a victory at Headingley that moved the Rhinos up to fourth place.

Richard Agar's side beat Wigan Warriors to set up a Challenge Cup final showdown with Salford last time out and scored seven tries in an emphatic defeat of Hull, who stepped in to play at short notice due to positive coronavirus tests at Castleford Tigers.

Hull led 10-0 after 16 minutes courtesy of tries from Andre Savelio and Mahe Fonua, but Leeds were six points to the good at half-time thanks to a Jack Walker double either side of Handley's first try.

Scores from James Donaldson and Handley gave them breathing space but tries from Jack Brown and Josh Griffin - both converted by Marc Sneyd - in the space of four minutes gave Hull hope.

The Rhinos were comfortable winners in the end, though, Liam Sutcliffe going over before Handley intercepted a pass and charged 50 metres to complete his hat-trick, Rhyse Martin successfully converting for a sixth time.

Inu was the star of the show in the first game of the double-header, scoring all but four of Salford's points in a 24-16 win over Huddersfield.

The Red Devils have now won five in a row in all competitions after Inu dotted down twice in quick time early in the second half for a treble, also booting eight points, with Chris Atkin scoring Salford's other try.

Leeds Rhinos' victory over Hull KR came at a heavy price for Harry Newman, while Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils also claimed Super League wins on Thursday.

The Rhinos ran out 41-16 winners in Warrington, but their triumph was overshadowed by Newman's broken leg in the 30th minute.

After a 10-minute break for Newman to receive treatment, the centre was taken to hospital, with Leeds subsequently confirming he faces at least six months out.

Leeds were 18-0 up at the time of Newman's injury and made it 24-0 through Richie Myler before Jimmy Keinhorst got Rovers on the board against his former club.

Ash Handley went over for his second after the restart and, though Ryan Brierley converted his own try to apply some pressure, birthday boy Alex Mellor and Luke Briscoe made sure of the Rhinos' seventh win of 2020.

There was frustration for Rovers' city rivals Hull FC, whose play-off hopes were thwarted as Salford clinched a 28-22 victory.

Krisnan Inu was the star of an excellent first-half showing for the 2019 Grand Final runners-up, as he scored 14 of 18 points.

Hull are eighth but have recorded only five victories and, with the table to be settled on win percentage rate, will not have enough for a play-off spot.

In Thursday's late match, Aidan Sezer scored 11 points to inspire Huddersfield to a 31-19 comeback win over Castleford Tigers.

Elsewhere, Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester revealed the club are considering going into lockdown after two players tested positive for COVID-19, with a further seven players subsequently stood down ahead of Friday's clash with Wigan Warriors.

Leeds Rhinos came from behind to snatch a 13-12 victory over Huddersfield Giants in Super League, despite standing down seven players due to coronavirus concerns.

Rhinos confirmed shortly before kick-off on Thursday that – due to one of their players awaiting the results of a test – a further six members of their squad would not feature as a result of the track-and-trace protocols Super League is following.

However, the Rhinos still came up with a hard-earned win at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Luke Gale's drop-goal sealing a memorable victory.

Leeds already claimed a golden-point triumph over Huddersfield in their first game back following Super League's restart, and this time they had to come from 10 points down at the break.

Konrad Hurrell and Tom Briscoe got the tries for Leeds, with Gale splitting the sticks with six minutes left.

A drop-goal also proved decisive in Thursday's other clash, with St Helens edging out Hull Kingston Rovers 21-20 on the golden point rule to return to the top of the standings.

Theo Fages was the match-winning hero for Saints on their home turf, with an Ethan Ryan try and a penalty from Will Dagger having forced additional time.

Wigan Warriors suffered a shock 34-18 loss to Hull KR as the Super League leaders were undone by an inspired display from hat-trick hero Greg Minikin.

Bottom side KR produced an outstanding performance at Headingley to claim only their second win of the season, with Minikin the star.

Elliot Minchella and Minikin both touched down twice in the first half to eclipse Sam Powell and Harry Smith's efforts for Wigan, who were 22-12 down at the interval.

Hull remarkably extended their advantage in the second half as Dean Hadley joined the fun before Minikin completed his treble.

Jackson Hastings late burst across the line was never going to unduly worry Tony Smith's men, who still had time to add gloss with a penalty from Jordan Abdull.

There was drama aplenty in Thursday's other game, with 2019 Grand Final losers Salford Red Devils surrendering an 18-0 lead in a 37-30 defeat to Castleford Tigers.

The Tigers earned their first win since the restart with a thrilling comeback led by a 17-point showing from Danny Richardson.

A third match scheduled for Thursday did not go ahead after two Wakefield Trinity players tested positive for coronavirus, leading to their clash with Leeds Rhinos being postponed.

 

 

The Super League match between Wakefield Trinity and Leeds Rhinos has been postponed after two players tested positive for coronavirus.

Wakefield confirmed on Tuesday two of their players had returned positive results and the rest of the squad will have further tests in 48 hours. One of the players was involved in last week's game against Warrington Wolves.

Thursday's other matches, Hull KR versus Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils against Castleford Tigers, will still go ahead.

Huddersfield Giants will play St Helens and Warrington will face Hull FC as planned on Friday, despite six of the Wolves' playing squad being required to self-isolate for 14 days due to Wakefield's positive tests.

Rugby Football League (RFL) chief regulatory officer Karen Moorhouse said in a statement: "In what are unprecedented and uniquely challenging circumstances for the sport, we should first recognise the importance of the health and well-being of the players and other staff, and their families, at the clubs who have been affected.

"Again, we have been forced as a sport to show our ability to move quickly to ensure we still have a programme of four attractive fixtures in the Super League – and again, we are grateful to the flexibility of the clubs involved, and of our broadcast partners, in agreeing to these changes at such short notice."

Wigan Warriors came from behind to beat Castleford Tigers 30-22 and go four points clear of the top of Super League, while Leeds Rhinos thrashed Salford Red Devils.

Castleford led 12-0 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday courtesy of tries from Nathan Massey and Gareth O'Brien, both converted by Danny Richardson.

The leaders responded well to a poor start, ending the first half with a four-point advantage thanks to scores from Sam Powell, Joe Burgess and Ben Flower.

Derrell Olpherts crossed for the Tigers just after the interval, but Liam Farrell and Joe Bullock touched down for Wigan, with Zak Hardaker taking his tally with the boot to 10 points before Michael Shenton scored Castleford's fourth try of a pulsating game late on.

Leeds are four points behind Wigan after putting Salford to the sword in Warrington, where Ash Handley and Richie Myler claimed hat-tricks in a 50-12 win.

Mikolaj Oledzki, Robert Lui and Luke Gale also went over the whitewash in a nine-try rout, with Rhyse Martin booting 14 points as the rampant Rhinos moved into fourth place and sounded a warning to their rivals.

A quickfire second-half double from Niall Evalds was no consolation for sorry Salford, who are languishing just one place off the foot of the table.

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