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The CCCRL (Canada Co-Operative Championship Rugby League) is pleased to announce that former Leeds Rhinos’ standout, Stevie Ward has been appointed to the board of directors and named director of welfare and safety.

The primary focus and main element of this position is to create a new and improved model of player welfare that will reflect the core values of the CCCRL competition and organization from a mental and physical health standpoint.

“The concept of CCCRL lit me up from the moment I heard about it,” Ward said. “I am proud to be a part of something that is building a league where the welfare and safety of the people on the pitch is paramount.

“I and the rest of the CCCRL team are dedicated to implementing a culture where the players’ individual needs, talents, and wider life dreams are at the heart of the game’s success. We plan to lead the way surrounding player mental health, wellbeing, protecting long term health and promoting the all-round development of the player.

“The CCCRL will be an organisation that hopes to offer players the opportunity to perform at the highest level within sport but also build their brand, skills, and dreams so that they can have success that outlasts their playing career. I truly believe in what we are building and I can’t wait to ignite the new era of rugby league in Canada and North America. Now’s the time!”

The second row/loose forward appeared in 115 games that spanned over nine seasons in the RFL’s Super League, all with the Leeds Rhinos where he debuted in 2012. Over the course of his playing career, he earned such accomplishments and achievements by winning two Super League grand finals, two Challenge Cups, one League Leaders Shield, and one World Club Challenge finalist and was selected for the 2017 England World Cup squad.

“In order for us to grow and develop this competition in North America, we need people like Stevie to help us meet our vision and expectations,” said CCCRL vice president Sandy Shipley.

“We are going to rely heavily on Stevie as he undertakes what we feel is the most important and crucial element of our league, which is placing a great deal of emphasis on the health and safety for all our players, coaches and employees worldwide.

“Stevie has seen and been through the all the rigours of the sport of rugby league and there’s nobody out there that we trust more and is better suited to take on this significant role in our organization.”

The Leeds, West Yorkshire, England native has had to overcome a series of injuries during the course of his career that included 10 operations and three major concussions all before the age of 27. As mental health advocate, Ward created “Mantality” in 2016, an educational platform and podcast for men to understand and improve their own mindset and mental health.

A quarter of the profits from apparel sold goes towards offering mental health support and a membership featuring a training regime on how to protect your mind from mental and physical stress. Stevie continues to be an established speaker, sharing his story and lessons at key events, including speaking alongside Prince Harry for the Leeds community foundation, which he is an ambassador for.