Jack Sinfield: Leeds Rhinos youngster reflects on debut in Super League defeat at Castleford Tigers

It was another forgettable result, but Leeds Rhinos’ 16-14 Easter Monday defeat at Castleford Tigers could prove significant in the long term because of two new names on the teamsheet.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:30 pm

Max Simpson and Jack Sinfield, both 17, played the full 80 minutes, giving Rhinos fans an insight into what could be a bright future.

Sinfield was Leeds’ only specialist half-back for 70 of them, after stand-off Blake Austin failed a head injury assessment.

Reflecting on his first Betfred Super League appearance, Sinfield said: “It was disappointing to lose, but to make my debut with Max, who is a good mate of mine, was really special.

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Jack Sinfield with Rhinos' interim-coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan after the defeat at Castleford. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“Having all my family there made it even more special and I really enjoyed every minute of it, despite the result.”

He added: “The more minutes me and Max can get, the better for the both of us.

“We’ve been getting a lot of minutes in the academy and reserves and both really enjoying that, so wherever the minutes are coming from I am going to try and keep enjoying my rugby and getting better and learning.”

Like his club legend father Kevin - against Sheffield Eagles a quarter of a century ago - Sinfield’s debut ended in a two-point defeat. The teenager described his personal performance as “all right”, but insisted: “The more important thing is the team and we didn’t get the win, but hopefully we can bounce back on Friday and come up with some points then.”

Kevin Sinfield was at the Jungle to watch son Jack make his Rhinos debut. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

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“Hopefully I can keep learning, keep getting better and hopefully bring some more to this team.”

Promoted into the full-time squad at the start of pre-season, Sinfield’s chance has come earlier than expected, but with Austin unavailable on Friday, Aidan Sezer resting a troublesome knee problem and Richie Myler likely to be needed at full-back when he returns, the youngster could be set for a run in the side.

“Hopefully,” he said. “I’ll just take the minutes as they come really, just keep focusing on working hard and hopefully keep getting better and keep learning. Hopefully the minutes will come with that.”

Jack Sinfield on the ball during Monday's game. Picture by Allan Mckenzie/SWpix.com.

Sinfield paid tribute to Leeds’ other halves for helping him make the transition from academy to first team.

“Blake has been really good with me,” he said of Austin, who suffered a gash to his head.

“We play in similar positions and he has really looked after me - and the same with Aidan. I have learned a lot from both of them, so losing Blake was not ideal, but we have to react to moments like that and still find a way to get a result.

“I had to step up because Kruise [Leeming, who moved into the halves when Austin went off] isn’t a natural half-back, even though he’s brilliant there.

“I get on with Kruise as well, it’s easy for me to work with them because I think we have quite a good relationship off the field as well.”

The defeat at the Jungle left Rhinos second from bottom in Super League, only one point ahead of Friday’s opponents. Sinfield, though, believes they are improving. He said: “The team’s close.

“We’re not quite there yet, we haven’t quite got that finishing touch, but it is coming and you can tell it’s coming. Hopefully if we keep improving a win will come soon.”