Leeds Rhinos stalwart Ryan Bailey has been granted a 12-month testimonial by the Rugby Football League as he heads towards his 13th season at the club.
The six-time Super League champion and former Great Britain international launched his testimonial year at a special Christmas dinner. And the Rhinos have agreed to host a testimonial game at Headingley Carnegie on Friday, January 31.
Bailey has so far made 291 appearances for the Rhinos since making his debut in 2002 after joining the club from local amateur side Milford.
He was capped four times by Great Britain in 2004 and has a further four caps for England.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career,” said Bailey.
“The Rhinos have shown a lot of loyalty to me down the years and I hope I have returned that loyalty. As a kid, all I wanted to do was play for Leeds. I grew up watching Adrian Morley and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“My favourite memories include defying all the odds to win the title from fifth and winning that first title back in 2004 plus winning my first cap for Great Britain was a dream come true. I am looking forward to the next year and hopefully having a successful season and testimonial.”
Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott added: “I have always referred to Ryan as a bit of a pantomime villain, opposition fans, players and coaches love to single him out.
“However, he is someone who his team-mates have a lot of time for and who is determined to be a winner with Leeds.
“He has had his challenges along the way, and there have been some ups and downs, but his determination to succeed against those odds has never diminished. He is training well and I am pretty confident 2014 is going to be a big year for Ryan for a lot of reasons.”
Team-mate Danny McGuire added: “Ryan always gives his all for the Rhinos and has been integral to our success down the years.
“He is a Leeds lad and the club means so much too him, it is fitting that he has been granted a testimonial.”
Jamie Jones-Buchanan added: “I am very proud to call Ryan my team-mate and friend.
“When I was thinking back over his time, the one thing that stands out for me is the memories we have shared at Grand Finals.
“When we first won back in 2004, I made sure that we had a photo together.
“As two Bramley lads, at the time you are thinking, this might never happen again.
“We have been fortunate to win five more titles and every time I make sure I get a photo with Bails.
“He is someone who cares passionately about the club and about us winning, sometimes that boils over on the field.
“But no one should ever underestimate how much this club means to him.”