CLUB LEGEND Kevin Sinfield reckons Leeds Rhinos are on the up.
Rhinos kick off the new Betfred Super League season on Thursday when they visit St Helens and Sinfield reckons they are poised to bounce back from their disastrous 2016.
The seven-time Super League champions finished ninth last term, their first campaign since Sinfield left the club, but the record-breaking former captain is upbeat about Leeds’ prospects of getting back among the elite.
“I am pretty optimistic,” said Sinfield, who is now rugby director at the Rugby Football League.
“I think the pleasing thing has been the pre-season. That can make or break your year and I know how hard the lads have trained again.
“I am still in touch with many of them and many of them are friends so I obviously want them to do well.
“I want to see them lift a trophy this year – and for the incredible support they’ve had, not only during all my time there, but also last year when things weren’t going to plan.
“The support was incredible, so for those people who continued to support and keep the faith, I think it is important for them to have something to celebrate.”
Sinfield’s concern is now the sport as a whole and he reckons rugby league will only benefit from a strong Leeds.
“It needs Leeds in and around the big games,” he said.
“To be fair, that’s what Leeds are about.
“Leeds need to be in big games, fighting for trophies and playing an entertaining brand of rugby.
“I lived that for 20 years; I know exactly what it’s like. I know the jersey there weighs a bit more than everywhere else, but it’s part of playing for the best club in the game.”
Sinfield is now building a career as an administrator and insisted he is loving life away from the playing field.
“It is very, very different,” he said. “It has been interesting going from playing to an office-based type of role, although I don’t particularly like being in the office.
“I like getting out and meeting people and getting the answers that way, rather than through emails.
“The second part of it is joining such a big organisation, getting to know everybody and seeing how people work and understanding what their roles are.
“Also I am getting out to clubs and visiting people and that has been different as well. It is a learning curve.
“I think whatever happens for me in the future, this period of time will be really important for my development as an administrator and a rugby director.
“I have certainly been thrown in at the deep end and if you look at a lot of the negativity recently, to be involved with some of that – as well as the positivity around 2017, which is going to be a big year for the game – is something that will stand me in good stead.”