IT WAS business as usual for Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield today as he came down to earth following his Sports Personality adventure.
Sinfield was back in training with Yorkshire Carnegie today, two days after being voted runner-up to Andy Murray for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
The former Leeds Rhinos captain, who switched codes to rugby union two months ago, admitted he is still coming to terms with the volume of support he received from across the 13-a-side game.
And he said he was keenly aware of representing the sport in a rare spell under the spotlight during the run-up to the event in Belfast and on the night itself.
Each of the 12 nominees was interviewed on stage in front of the star-studded audience and millions of primetime television viewers and Sinfield revealed: “I was really, really nervous going up to speak.
“I think that was because I just wanted to give such a good impression of the game.
“I wanted people to think ‘this is good, rugby league players are decent people, hard-working and honest, who go about things the right way’.”
Sinfield’s nomination came after he captained Rhinos to a clean sweep of trophies and became the third-highest points scorer in rugby league’s history.
Rhinos’ treble-winning squad travelled to Belfast to support Sinfield and joined him on stage during his interview before voting began. And he revealed the team were a big hit in the post-event celebration.
“I think it’s fair to say our lads were the heart and soul of the party afterwards, which is great,” he said.
“The amount of people who knew about rugby league and Leeds Rhinos was really heartening.
“We had so many photos taken with players and ex-players across all different sports.
“It was great for all the lads, especially some of the younger ones, to see how big our game really is.
“Some of my best mates are in that team and for me it was great to get another chance to celebrate with them.”
Sinfield was the first rugby league player nominated for the BBC award. Since it began in 1954, rugby league has been honoured only five times at the annual sports review, with previous winners being overseas personality Mal Meninga in 1990, teams Wigan (1994) and St Helens (2006), and coach Daniel Anderson (2006).
“It has been manic,” Sinfield said of the three weeks since the shortlist was announced. “But it has been so humbling and I am so, so grateful.
“It has been a wonderful experience and I was proud to represent the Rhinos and rugby league.
“I was just happy to be in the 12 and to get chance to show what rugby league is all about.”
Sinfield received 28 per cent of the total vote and he added: “I am grateful to everyone.
“The rugby league family came out again and with Lizzie Jones doing so well, the whole rugby league involvement was outstanding.”
Jones sang ‘Danny Boy’ live on stage in tribute to her husband, Danny Jones, who died after being taken ill playing for Keighley Cougars in May.
Sinfield is expected to feature for Carnegie in Sunday’s home Championship derby against Rotherham Titans.