Sinfield out to end Wembley woes
Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield is confident his side can kick their losing habit at Wembley tomorrow.
The Rhinos are in danger of making history by completing a hat-trick of Carnegie Challenge Cup final defeats when they take on firm favourites Warrington Wolves.
Along with St Helens, Leeds have become the most successful club in Super League with five Grand-Final wins in the last eight years, but have lost in five Challenge Cup finals since enjoying their last triumph in 1999.
The Rhinos are appearing in their 23rd Challenge Cup final - only Wigan Warriors with 29 have a better track record - but are aiming to avoid being the first club to suffer three consecutive final defeats at Wembley.
Hull FC lost in three from 1908-10 but that was well before the game was moved to Wembley.
Sinfield, who was also in the Leeds team that lost in the 2003 and 2005 finals in Cardiff, believes there is no "monkey" to get off his team's back.
"I don't honestly feel there is anything on our back," he said. "I truly believe that on final day so far we've not been good enough.
"Finals for me are all about playing well and the team that plays the best wins. So far, for whatever reason, we've not been good enough.
"I don't have any excuse or reason for that, I just hope that on Saturday we put in our best performance of the year and, if we do that, we give ourselves a great opportunity.
"The team are pretty relaxed. We're looking forward to it. We don't feel like there's any pressure on us."
Leeds were already underdogs before the loss of influential half-back Danny McGuire with a knee injury and Sinfield admits the England international is irreplaceable.
Coach Brian McDermott has the option of switching Rob Burrow to his old scrum-half spot and starting Shaun Lunt at hooker, but he is also tempted to start with 18-year-old utility man Stevie Ward - the youngster dubbed "the new Kevin Sinfield" - alongside the real thing.
"I don't think we can replace Danny," Sinfield said. "I don't think there's another player in the competition who can give us what Danny gives us.
"What we have to do is try to find something a little bit different. Whether that's Stevie or Rob, I'm not sure at this stage, but hopefully we can be good enough on the day."
A third consecutive defeat would be heartbreaking but Sinfield remains philosophical about the prospect.
"It's not unthinkable because it's going to go one way or the other," he said. "Either it's three in a row we've lost or we finally lift the trophy.
"We're focusing solely on trying to play well and hopefully we can be good enough.
"Losing someone like Danny Mags, on top of some of the ups and downs we've had again this year and sitting in fifth place in the table and the way that Warrington have played and how healthy their squad is, I don't feel there is any pressure on us."