Shock as ace Rutherford quits Thunder

LONG-serving former captain Stephen Rutherford, who made over a century of appearances for Gateshead Thunder, has quit his local club following a dispute.

LONG-serving former captain Stephen Rutherford, who made over a century of appearances for Gateshead Thunder, has quit his local club following a dispute.

Only fellow local products Steven Bradley and Robin Peers have made more appearances than Rutherford’s 138 in a Gateshead shirt.

Rutherford has decided to go quietly and hasn’t elaborated on the reasons for his decision to leave after eight years.

However, the 25-year-old has thanked the fans for their support and indicated that there were individuals at the club to blame for his untimely departure.

He said: “My decision to leave the club was not made lightly but I decided to go quietly as it was my way of showing appreciation to the team and to the fans who have stuck by Gateshead through thick and thin.

“I would never want my reasons for leaving the club to affect Gateshead in any way.

“There are people at the club who are aware of my reasons for leaving after so many years and this can rest on their conscience not mine.”

The official line from the club is that Rutherford, who made 12 appearances this year, has decided to prematurely hang up his boots for personal reasons.

“Unfortunately we have lost a very good player and great club man in Stephen Rutherford due to personal reasons,” said head coach Dave Woods. “I would like to thank Steve for his efforts this season and hope that he may return to us.”

Rutherford’s loss has been compensated by the signing of Portsmouth-based Combined Services playmaker Scott Partis, who could make his debut against Oldham this Sunday.

“Scott has a very good kicking game, organises well and is a thinker,” said Woods, who saw the Yorkshire-born player when he toured Australia last year.

“He’s here until the end of the year and we’ll see how he goes with a view to next season. He’ll still be in the Navy but we may be able to work around that.”

Thunder, however, have missed out on experienced Australia-based prop Mark Meredith although the deal could be resurrected for next season.

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