LEEDS RHINOS captain Kevin Sinfield says he isn’t concerned about Castleford Tigers potentially trying to wind him up in tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final.
Sinfield was sent-off for the first time in his career, for butting Luke Dorn, when Rhinos drew with Tigers at Headingley Carnegie a month ago.
The Leeds skipper was also yellow carded for interference on Dorn in a defeat at Harlequins a week before their 2011 Challenge Cup final loss to Wigan Warriors.
Sinfield returned from his two-game suspension to lead Rhinos to victory over Warrington Wolves in the semi-final two weeks ago and Tigers know keeping the England captain in check will be crucial to their hopes of lifting the trophy.
But asked if he expects Tigers’ players to try and get under his skin tomorrow, Sinfield said: “I don’t know.
“It is certainly not something that concerns me. My own focus is about playing well and about making sure the team plays as well as we can and trying to contribute in the best way I can.
“I don’t have that bad a record – it’s one sending-off in 530-odd games – and if they want to waste time and energy trying to wind me up, we have got some pretty dangerous people who only need the smallest of gaps and they’ll be through.”
Sinfield added: “In the past I’ve had teams trying to wind me up and it’s part of the game. It’s a physical sport and from time to time there’s some verbals that happen, but you just get on with it.”
Sinfield’s ban – and being rested against London Broncos last week – means he has played just once in a month going into the final.
“It might have been an issue for me 10 years ago and something I worried about then,” he stated. “But not at this stage.”
Under-strength Leeds teams have lost to relegated Bradford Bulls and London in their last two First Utility Super League fixtures, separated by the semi-final victory.
“I’m all right with our form,” Sinfield said. “It’s not something I get particularly hyped up about now. I am pretty cool with it. I think the team’s in pretty decent shape and hopefully we can play well (tomorrow).
“In the other five finals I’ve played in we’ve gone in in great form, we’ve gone in in poor form, we’ve gone in as the underdogs and we’ve gone in as favourites – and it hasn’t made any difference.
“We’ll look forward to this one and we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, Sinfield said he is “pleased” for Tigers coach Daryl Powell, who was in charge of Rhinos when they lost by two points to Bradford Bulls in the 2003 final.
Powell appointed Sinfield as Leeds skipper in December, 2012 and he said: “He will certainly get coach of the year this year.
“It has been remarkable what he’s done. I played alongside him, I know him as a bloke and I’ve spent a lot of quality time with him.
“For him to go on and do what he’s done doesn’t surprise me. I was coached by him with England a few years ago and to see the transformation from 2003 to then, it was massive.
“He has continued to grow and get better and he has had a great year.”
Castleford legend and former Leeds coach Malcolm Reilly has been confirmed as chief guest at the final and will present the trophy to the winning captain.
Meanwhile, Brad England scored two tries and Ashton Golding and Dan Tai also crossed – with Jordan Lilley landing one goal – as Rhinos under-19s were beaten 32-18 by St Helens at Stanningley.