Sinfield puts team first
A large percentage of Leeds Rhinos’ squad count captain Kevin Sinfield as the greatest Super League player, but he is as careful as ever to promote a team-first message.
Thirty-two-year-old Sinfield, who is called ‘Sir Kev’ by his own club, will lead Leeds out in a Grand Final for the seventh time tomorrow, when a win over Warrington Wolves would be their sixth in nine years.
For the England international it would come at the end of a year in which he became Leeds’ all-time leading point-scorer, adding further to the regard in which he is held at Headingley.
But a day out from tomorrow’s showpiece, the Oldham-born goalkicker is keen to stress that his success, plus that of his club, is down to one thing.
“Hard work,” he says.
“The club is built on hard work, from the players in the academy through to our oldest player in Jamie Peacock. When we lose we work hard, when we win we work hard. It’s what we do.”
A core of consistency runs through the Rhinos camp. Five players could start tomorrow who played in their maiden success over Bradford Bulls in 2004, nine from the 2007 success over St Helens and 14 from a year ago.
“It speaks volumes for the loyalty of the club and the players,” Sinfield added.
“It’s great what happens here; we have traits which run down to the academy and it is something that continues to be a pleasure to be a part of.”
At the end of last year’s win over St Helens, Sinfield hoisted the trophy above his head and said: “To all those who have written us off, this is for you”.
He was referring to the critics who had called Leeds a spent force amid their mid-season slump which saw them dumped out of the play-off places.
As a result, few have been willing to call them out this year, even if they again finished fifth and had to make their way to Manchester the hard way, beating Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at home and then Catalan Dragons and Wigan Warriors away.
“I think we’ve been improving, it’s been a difficult month that you can include Wakefield in after they gave us a difficult test at Headingley,” Sinfield said.
“Thankfully we progressed through that and it’s great to be back at Old Trafford and looking at another Grand Final. It will be a tough one, but the lads have worked really hard over the last month and deserve to be here.
“It’s nice to come back; it’s comforting. We have some great memories from there over the years and it’s always nice to be there; it’s better than sitting at home wondering what might have been. I think we’re ready for it. We’ve put a lot of hard work in over this last month.”
Sinfield is one of a number of Leeds players in their seventh final while veteran prop Peacock will enter double figures after an equally-illustrious career with Bradford.
“It’s comforting to be back and looking around the dressing room to see players who have won so many Grand Finals, but on Saturday night I don’t know whether it counts that much. We intend to come here and try our best and hopefully that will be good enough,” Sinfield said.