Kevin Sinfield: Leeds Rhinos legend to leave club at end of season - expected to be confirmed in coaching role at Leicester Tigers

Director of rugby and club legend Kevin Sinfield will leave Leeds Rhinos at the end of this season, it was confirmed today.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 8:12 am

Sinfield is expected to take up a coaching role with rugby union giants Leicester Tigers, ending a two-decade association with Rhinos.

The club’s most successful captain - with seven Super League titles and two Challenge Cup wins - and record points scorer, he has been in his current position since July, 2018.

Outlining his reasons for leaving, Sinfield said his role at Leeds now is not the job he returned to the club to do three years ago.

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Kevin Sinfield. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Kevin Sinfield. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

After hanging up his boots in 2015, when he skippered Leeds to a clean sweep of domestic trophies, he had a swansong as a player in union with Yorkshire Carnegie and then a spell at the RFL, where he was head of the England performance unit.

In an initial statement, released through the club, he described his departure as “one of the hardest decisions of my career”.

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The 40-year-old, who did not reveal his next destination, said: “It has been a privilege to return to the club and help take us forward into the future.

Kevin Sinfield, right, with Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“When I returned, I always said I would review my role after three years and that my reason for coming back was to help the club.

“The last 18 months have been a huge challenge and the role has changed significantly from the job I first came to do.

“My position is now further away from performance than I ever thought it would be.”

Sinfield, awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours last week, stressed: “I love the club and the people I work with, but I feel now is the right time for a new challenge.

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“As well as the role changing, I have changed through my experiences in the last 18 months both at the club and through my fundraising activities.”

Sinfield returned to Leeds at a time when the club was struggling against relegation.

They survived the drop and went on to win the Challenge Cup last year and qualify for the Super League play-offs for the first time since 2017.

“I am proud of our record over the last three years,” he said.

“We have rediscovered the spirit of the Rhinos within this group with a squad of young, talented, home-grown players secured on long-term contracts for the foundations of a new era of success in the years ahead.

“Rugby league has been central to my life since I was seven and I will always consider myself as part of the rugby league family.

“I am not leaving the sport, I am just doing a different job and I will continue to help the sport wherever I can.”

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said he did not want Sinfield to leave and other roles at the club had been discussed.

“Like all Rhinos fans, I am extremely disappointed with Kevin’s decision,” Hetherington stated.

“We always hoped he would enjoy a long career with us.

“I agree the director of rugby role has changed and we did discuss other roles at the club, but it is not to be.”

Hetherington insisted: “I do understand and appreciate Kevin’s reasons for leaving for a new and different challenge.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank Kevin for the fantastic job he has done over the last three years, in particular the unprecedented challenges over the last 18 months.

“Undoubtedly, when he leaves the club he will leave it in a much better position than when he returned.”

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