sport news Leeds Rhinos captain Ward is forced to retire aged just TWENTY-SEVEN after ...

Today I announce my retirement from rugby league due to the two concussions I suffered on the 19th January and 2nd February 2020.

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.

On a daily basis, I struggle with migraines, dizziness, motion sickness, sensitivity to light and screens, short-term memory issues, slurred speech, and an inability to exercise or do daily tasks without irritating my symptoms.

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.

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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.

I have been able to test myself in one of the most competitive and brutal games there is.

And I have been able to use my platform to raise awareness on the importance of mental health within a macho sport, which historically stigmatised any such talk.

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt from last year is that enormous consideration needs to be taken when mixing the brutality of the game with the brain's fragility.

At the end of 2019, we were told the devastating news about a dear friend of mine, Rob Burrow.

On the same day I was told about Rob I was made club captain, and I was immensely motivated to do 2020 for Rob and get the Rhinos back to lifting trophies for him.

I am proud the boys were able to do this, but I feel my purpose for that year took an unexpected direction.

It was no longer about lifting trophies for Rob. It is now about having a glimpse into the scary world of neurological impairment and being another

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