Written by Callum Walker
One of Super League’s greatest ever hookers, Matt Diskin made his Leeds debut in 2001 at the age of 19 and would go on to play the whole decade for the Rhinos, racking up 264 appearances and 44 tries during that time.
For Leeds, the bald-headed enforcer won four Grand Finals – he was awarded the Harry Sunderland trophy for a man-of-the-match performance in the 2004 Grand Final – and one World Club Challenge, becoming a key figure in Leeds’ Super League dominance towards the end of the noughties.
Diskin’s first piece of silverware came in 2004 with the Grand Final – as he put in a man-of-the-match performance to scoop up the Harry Sunderland trophy, but the hooker was also on the receiving end of three Challenge Cup Final losses in 2003, 2005 and 2010.
Diskin and Leeds added to their Old Trafford victory in 2004 with a record-breaking three consecutive Grand Final successes in 2007, 2008 and 2009, whilst he won his one and only World Club Challenge in a Leeds shirt in 2008 with an 11-4 victory over Melbourne Storm.
At the end of 2010, Diskin moved to local rivals Bradford aged 28 in a bid to revitalise his career. Though he failed to win any trophies with the Bulls, the wily hooker was still an integral part of the Bradford squad. He was appointed joint-captain along with Heath L’Estrange ahead of the 2012 season.
Scoring 13 tries in 86 appearances, the veteran retired at the end of 2014 after taking up the role as player-coach with the Bulls midway through the season. The hooker cited the need to look after his body as the main reason to retire.
Though his club form for Leeds especially was impressive, Diskin was often overlooked for national honours and won just one Great Britain cap – in 2004 – throughout his 14-year professional career. As well as missing out on international recognition, the Dewsbury-born hardman was also included in just one Super League Dream Team in 2004.
Diskin coached Bradford for three games in 2014 and 2016, but found a home at Batley at the end of 2016. A run of poor results then saw the former Leeds and Bradford man part company with the Bulldogs in September 2019.
As a player, Diskin was a typical hooker; he was physical, aggressive and tough. Standing at 5 ft 11 and weighing 97kg, he was a powerful number nine and regularly mixed it with the big forwards in Super League. Retiring at 32 years old, there were calls for the four-time Grand Final winner to continue for Bradford in what was a very difficult year for the club, but he decided against it.