Leeds Rhinos: Grand Final man-of-the-match is particularly special for Sinfield

Kevin Sinfield and John Atkinson
Kevin Sinfield and John Atkinson
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OF THE 500 games he has played for Leeds Rhinos, club legend Kevin Sinfield has chosen the 2012 Grand Final as his most memorable.

Sinfield became only the fourth player to reach 500 games for Leeds when he came off the bench in the second half of last Friday’s 29-10 home defeat by Warrington Wolves. It was a disappointing way for Sinfield – who received a post-match presentation on the pitch from the other surviving member of the 500 club, John Atkinson – to bring up his latest milestone.

The 34-year-old, who made his debut in 1997, when he was 16, has been captain since 2003, leading Rhinos to six Grand Final wins, three World Club Challenges, two league leaders’ shields and the Challenge Cup.

Asked if he could pick one match to play again, Sinfield said: “All the finals have been special. The first one, in 2004, was brilliant and the Challenge Cup last year stands out, but I’d probably say the 2012 Grand Final.

“It was memorable bearing in mind what had gone before that, winning it from fifth in 2011 and then doing it again. We had a really tough run in the play-offs and to play Warrington again – after they had beaten us quite convincingly in the Challenge Cup two months earlier – was very, very special. I got the Harry Sunderland (man of the match) award as well, so it was a good day all round.”

Sinfield admitted the loss to Warrington three days ago was not how he wanted to remember his 500th match. He said: “The result was disappointing. To play 500 games is very special and for it to be at Headingley was great, it was just a shame with the result.”

Sinfield came off the bench in the second half, when Leeds were 20-4 behind. “We invested a lot in the St Helens game and that might have hurt us,” he reflected. “But I don’t want to take anything away from Warrington. They are a very good side, they took their opportunities and they were very clinical.”