‘Unfinished business’ brings forward Matt Prior back to Leeds Rhinos

LEEDS RHINOS’ Matt Prior has revealed he considered retiring as he battled with a difficult decision about returning from his home in Australia to a UK still struggling in lockdown.

The prop, 33, was the West Yorkshire club’s player of the year after a fine debut campaign, which included lifting the Challenge Cup in October.

However, Prior flew home to Australia at the end of the campaign and only arrived back in England last week, after the UK government unveiled its roadmap out of the current lockdown.

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He explained the difficulties he and his partner Rebecca, with whom he has two-year-old daughter Indie, faced as they weighed up whether to return.

“I struggled a bit being in lockdown for large amounts of the year last year,” Prior confirmed.

“It was kind of hard to bring my family back over and for them to have to do it for such a long time.

“You all know the difficulties you are all facing at the moment and I wasn’t sure I wanted to put my partner under that kind of strain.

“The club worked with me to give me as much time off as possible and waited until there was the roadmap going forward.

Playing on: Player of the year Matt Prior has returned to Leeds Rhinos. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“But things are looking up, I am glad to be back and looking forward to being back around the boys and getting back into training.”

Australia’s Covid infection rate is remarkably low compared to the UK and, with his partner suffering from asthma, there was plenty of reasons why it would have been easier to stay in Sydney even if Prior had no actual plans.

“I was tossing up in my mind maybe retiring, but I don’t know what I’d do, to be honest,” explained the former New South Wales State of Origin forward.

“I only have one skill and that’s playing footy and I am going to keep playing footy as long as I can.

Winning smile: Matt Prior, with Adam Cuthbertson, helped Leeds win the Challenge Cup in his first season at the club. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com

“To do it as a job is pretty cool so I’ll try and keep it going as long as I can.

“Now I am back I feel like I’ve made the right call – I am happy to be back. My family’s not over here yet; they are going to stay another month, until things get a little bit better. Then we’ll fly them over and things will start going back to normal, we’ll get on with footy and we’ll be good.”

The two-time NRL Grand Final winner added: “It was a tough year for me personally with my relationship and my little one, being away from family.

“It put a lot of strain on us because once we got back to Australia we were around all our family and we had a lot more support than we had over here, in the sense we could drop the little one off to our in-laws or whatever.

“It did make things a lot easier and I did [wonder if] it was easier to stay home and for me to get a normal job but I still do have unfinished business and that’s why I am back, I guess.”

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