TEAM-MATES HAVE spoken out in support of Leeds Rhinos and England captain Kevin Sinfield.
The veteran stand-off faces a possible ban following the first red card of his career, during the 24-24 draw with Castleford Tigers two days ago.
Sinfield was sent-off for butting Tigers full-back Luke Dorn and could be charged after the RFL’s match review panel studies footage of the incident on Monday.
A suspension of three games or more would lead to Sinfield missing next month’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves, but Leeds second-rower Carl Ablett said the skipper has his team’s full backing.
“It was definitely out of character,” said Ablett. “In 500-odd games he has never done that, but it just shows he is human.
“Sometimes you do lose your head and you have to deal with the consequences that come. We will all back him and he will come good whenever he’s back in the team.”
Tigers equalised after Sinfield’s late dismissal, but Ablett insisted: “He didn’t lose us that game.
“We got in positions where we could still have won it. It’ll be disappointing if he does get banned, but we will do a good job [without him].
“He apologised, but I don’t think the boys needed that with what he has done for this club.
“Everybody know what he’s about and the values he’s got as a bloke. He will turn it around and repay the faith all the lads have got in him.”
The first red card of Sinfield’s career – in his 533rd senior game – coincided with Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker’s return from a five-match ban for abusing referee James Child during a defeat at Warrington Wolves in May.
Hardaker also voiced his backing for Sinfield.
He said: “Obviously, I know all about losing my cool and heat of the moment stuff.
“But modern professional as he is, it’s a tight game and rugby league is a tough sport which is demanding on yourself.
“It’s one of those moments. He’s gutted, he’s real upset about himself and what he’s done and really feels like he’s let the team down.
“I don’t feel like he did. Things like that happen to people across the board yet that’s his first red card across his entire pro’ career and probably juniors as well.
“It’s not like Kevin at all, but it’s just the balance of the game and how much he wanted to win and lead. As captain he wants to do that.
“Obviously he’s gone a bit off the rails there, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back from it and be fine.”
Coach Brian McDermott attributed Sinfield’s dismissal to a momentary loss of control.
McDermott - who admitted the red card was the right decision by whistler Ben Thaler - said: “Kev gets singled out in every single game, for over 500 games.
“He has moments of frustration, but we’ve never, ever seen that. I think we can all afford him a little momentary lapse in discipline for what, two seconds?”