LEEDS RHINOS and England skipper Kevin Sinfield has pledged to learn from the first suspension of his professional career.
Sinfield will return from a two-match ban when Rhinos take on Warrington Wolves in Saturday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final at St Helens’ Langtree Park.
Speaking publicly for the first time about his red card – for butting Castleford Tigers’ Luke Dorn – and subsequent suspension, Sinfield insisted he will transform the “disappointing” experience into a positive in the long-term.
“If anything it has given me focus,” Sinfield said of his enforced lay-off.
“I was disappointed to miss the last two games – I thought we played some great stuff at Salford and got a really good result and I was disappointed to miss a derby game against Bradford at Headingley.
“To miss those games was certainly a punishment, but it has allowed me to rest and get rid of some niggles.
“I’ve still had to train really hard over the last two weeks, so in effect I’ve had a mini pre-season, but I am just really focused on Saturday, if selected.
“I knew at 10 o’clock on Friday night I was back in the squad and available again, so I wanted to make sure by that
stage I was in as good condition as I could be physically and mentally.
“I am focused on, if selected, trying to have a great game on Saturday and trying to help the team perform as well as we can.”
Sinfield added: “It wasn’t pleasant and going through the last two weeks hasn’t been ideal, but if you look throughout my career there’s certainly been mistakes and times when I’ve had to face different types of adversity and I think they help make you what you are.
“Going through another experience like that wasn’t great. I don’t regret it - I wouldn’t try and change it, because it has happened and it is what it is - but if I can learn from it and come back better then that’s what I’ll try to do.
“I want to play as well as I can on Saturday, irrelevant of what happened two weeks ago, because if I play as well as I can, I help the team perform as well as they can and we give ourselves the best chance.”
The ban - after he entered an early guilty plea to a Grade C charge - was the first time Sinfield has fallen foul of the RFL’s disciplinary system since his Rhinos debut in 1997.
“I am disappointed with what happened two weeks ago,” he stressed.
“The fact we ended up drawing that game and the fact we lost on Friday doesn’t sit all that well with me, but I can’t change what’s happened now so I’m focusing on playing well on Saturday.
“If I do that hopefully we’ll perform better as a team.”
Sinfield is confident Rhinos can rise to the occasion against Warrington, despite the 20-12 home loss to already-relegated Bradford Bulls eight days earlier.
The stand-off insisted he is not concerned by Rhinos’ recent form and he said: “If we keep hold of some of the ball we dropped on Friday, we’re a far different team.
“Warrington got a great win at Catalan on Friday, but before that they’d won 10 on the bounce, then they lose a couple and suddenly everyone thinks they’ve lost their form.
“It’s far from the case - it just happens sometimes, if you don’t turn up 100 per cent you get beat.
“We’re expecting the best of Warrington on Saturday. Hopefully we can give them the best of us.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos are awaiting the results of a scan on the knee and ankle injury winger Ben Jones-Bishop suffered against Bradford.
Jones-Bishop will join Salford at the end of the season and coach Brian McDermott conceded it is possible he has played his last game for Leeds.