LEEDS RHINOS captain Kevin Sinfield is hopeful of being fit for Friday’s clash with Hull KR but accepts the club can ill afford to carry any passengers as they strive to re-discover some form.
The record-breaking stand-off has missed their last two games with a back injury.
He was due to return at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last Friday but head coach Brian McDermott made a late decision on arrival at Belle Vue and opted against selecting the England captain.
Leeds lost 16-14, going down to Richard Owen’s 78th minute try and missing the chance to regain Super League’s top spot.
“I wanted to play but I think in the end it was probably the smart call,” explained Sinfield.
“Because of a crash on the M62, and that getting closed, I wasn’t in time to meet the bus so I went straight to the ground.
“On arriving there with my kit bag I was all set to play but Mac just pulled me, we had a conversation and he made the call.
“It was that late and I had prepared as normal though I’d taken a little bang on it in training on the Thursday and it was still a little bit ginger anyway.
“I was pretty sore over the weekend but this Monday was the best I’d trained. There was still a couple of things I couldn’t do but I’m working on it and it’s coming on now. The medical team’s been fantastic again and fingers crossed for Friday really.”
Injury-ravaged Leeds have lost three of their last five league games and needed a last-minute penalty from Liam Sutcliffe to defeat Catalan Dragons in the other fixture missed by Sinfield.
He, along with Carl Ablett, Mitch Achurch, Ian Kirke and Rob Burrow, could all return at Headingley against a Hull KR side that thrashed leaders St Helens 40-10 on Sunday.
It’d be easy to put Sinfield on ‘light duties’ this week to ensure he can feature but the 33 -year-old said: “I don’t think we’re at a stage where we can wrap too many people in cotton wool.
“It was a smart decision for me medically (last week) but we lost the game.
“I’m not saying I’d have made a difference but the points are important at the minute and to get bodies back will be huge. I’ll need to test it before Friday if I want to play. I understand that.
“I tried to do that last week and it set me back a little Thursday so we’ll be smart as and when we do that but fingers crossed.”
Hull KR were emphatic in caretaker coach Chris Chester’s first game in charge since succeeding Craig Sandercock and, if they win at Headingley for successive years, they could potentially rise into the top eight.
They were level 6-6 with Leeds at Craven Park on the opening day of the season before being blown away in the second period, losing 34-6.
But Sinfield warned: “If you are beating the top of the league side by 40 points you are doing some things right.
“They’ve obviously showed a response to Craig Sandercock being replaced. Since they’ve made that change Chris Chester has come in and to get a response like that is fantastic.
“We had a tough game against them earlier this year while they beat us here last year so we know the threat they are and points are crucial for us too. We need to change our form, start picking results up quickly – we’re aware of that – and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”
Strangely, for all their concerns, Leeds remain just one point adrift of St Helens in a season where no one side has truly taken a grip of the competition.
“There is a chance for someone to take hold,” admitted Sinfield, with just four points separating Saints and sixth-placed Huddersfield Giants.
“In big picture stuff and, looking at the competition as a whole, I think it’s what everyone wants.
“As Leeds captain it’s not great as we’re coming up against some really good sides who are challenging us. Unfortunately we’ve not found performances that have warranted victories.
“We need to be better. There’s another couple who have seen long winning runs come to an end last weekend (Huddersfield lost to Salford).
“It’d be great to put a run together now. Hopefully fresh bodies will give us some impetus.”