IN 569 career appearances Kevin Sinfield was sent-off only once.
It happened in a derby between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers at Headingley three years ago today.
Rhinos were leading by six points with eight minutes to go when the Leeds captain was dismissed by referee Ben Thaler for butting Tigers full-back Luke Dorn.
Rhinos were pressing for what would have been a match-winning one-pointer when the ball went to ground and Dorn counter-attacked.
Sinfield made the tackle, words were exchanged and the skipper brought his head into contact with the Tigers full-back.
The Rugby Football League’s match review panel charged Sinfield with a grade C offence, which meant he could have been suspended for up to three games.
That would have ruled him out of the upcoming Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves, but his clean record made him eligible to submit an early guilty plea and accept a two-match suspension.
Sinfield duly missed Leeds’ win at Salford and home defeat by Bradford Bulls, but returned – refreshed and having had a fortnight to rest an injured knee – to help Rhinos secure a place at Wembley, where they gained revenge over Tigers.
The red card was the main talking point of a thrilling 24-24 draw, on July 17, 2014.
Tigers went ahead through an early try by Michael Shenton, but Tom Briscoe and Ryan Bailey hit back to nose Rhinos in front.
Former Leeds forward Weller Hauraki’s touchdown restored parity, but Carl Ablett broke clear to give Rhinos the lead for the second time.
Again Cas hit back, through Nathan Massey and Leeds had an escape when a touchdown by Justin Carney was ruled out for obstruction.
Ablett’s second try made it 24-18, but Leeds missed an opportunity to set up for a drop goal just before Sinfield was dismissed and then Grant Millington crossed to ensure honours finished even.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said the red card was the right decision, but insisted it didn’t cost Leeds the win.
“He is noted for his discipline and leadership,” he said of Sinfield. “He lost it for half a second - it happens. I think we can all afford him a little momentary lapse.”
Tigers coach - and Sinfield’s former Leeds teammate - Daryl Powell put the incident down to “tension and feeling”.
He said: “It surprised me a bit, it’s not like Kev.”