HATS OFF to Kevin Sinfield for reaching 500 career games, which is a remarkable achievement in anybody’s book.
Physically being able to cope with so much hammer in a tough sport like rugby league is very impressive.
The positions Kev plays, there’s no hiding place. He gets targeted by the opposition all the time, because they know how dangerous he is, but he takes it and comes back for more.
His game management is outstanding and he’s remarkably durable and consistent. You don’t see Kev have many bad games and he very rarely gets injured.
Also, the game changes – teams evolve every year and coaches and styles of play come and go and to be able to adapt to all that and keep your place in the side over 16 seasons takes some doing.
Kev has been an important part of the Leeds team since he made his debut in 1997 and I think most people would say he’s the best captain in the club’s history.
He has always been a good player, but his leadership is the thing that has come on the most since I first met him.
He’d admit he was probably thrown into the captaincy too soon, at a very young age. It’s a big responsibility at the club like Leeds, which is always in the spotlight, but he has really matured in the way he goes about his business.
It has been an honour to play alongside such a good player, who is a top lad as well. For me that is probably most important.
He is not just a team-mate, he is a mate and he’s somebody I have got a lot of time for, both on and off the field.
I think the big thing about Kev is, he is willing to put the team first. He’s not selfish, he doesn’t think he’s more important than anybody else and he always does what he thinks is best for the team.
That showed when he came back into the side at hooker. It’s not his favourite position, but he just rolled his sleeves up and got on with it.
That’s the attitude we have in the team. There’s a few people not playing in the role they’d want – Carl Ablett has been in the centres when he wants to be a back-rower and Rob Burrow has been used at hooker and on the bench – but everybody gives 100 per cent.
I think if he was asked to, Kev would play at prop. He is happy to be part of a good group of players at a great club.
He is a total professional, he looks after himself and he’s a credit to himself and the club. When you’ve got a captain who is like that, it sets the standard for everybody else.
Kev has got a bit of a dour image, which makes me laugh. When he gets interviewed he comes over all serious, but actually he’s not like that.
He enjoys the craic and he’s one of the biggest practical jokers in the team. He’s all business when it comes to rugby, but off the field he is one of the lads. At 32 he has probably got at least three more good years in him and he is still getting better.
If he plays until he’s 35 he is going to get past 500 games for Leeds and over 550 in his career.
He is a points machine and it’s frightening to imagine how many goals, points and matches he’ll accumulate before he finally hangs up his boots.