Kevin Sinfield spoke of his relief after finally getting his hands on the Challenge Cup after Leeds secured a 23-10 victory over Castleford in Saturday’s all-Yorkshire final at Wembley.
The 33-year-old Leeds skipper played in five of Rhinos’ six losing finals since they last won the trophy in 1999 but two tries from Lance Todd Trophy winner Ryan Hall and further scores from Tom Briscoe and Danny McGuire ensured their recent anguish in the competition is now at an end.
Speaking after the final whistle at England’s national stadium, Sinfield said: “We’ve been there (the final) a few times obviously and come away with second prize so (it is a relief) to finally get over the line.
“We were really relaxed about this one and it’s not been a crusade at all, we wanted to win it for the right reasons and it just shows sometimes that you have to persevere to come through.
“To lead the side out five times (at Wembley) and have to walk up (the stairs) having lost is tough and sticks with you but hopefully to all our fans, family and friends today makes up for it.”
Brian McDermott said: “It will take a while to come up with the right phrase to sum up the feeling. We have been striving for this for so long, the club has, and to eventually get it is a big feeling.
“For the players it’s a sense of relief, elation. They’re an emotional bunch right now but we feel like we have delivered something. I feel like I have delivered something. We have picked up six silver medals but now we have a gold, and that’s a big feeling.”
Leeds have been the kings of the league in the last decade, with Old Trafford a second home to them. Their cup struggles, though, have bewildered them and amused rival supporters.
“A lot of this (feeling) is down to the history,” McDermott added. “It’s the journey there; I haven’t coached every one of those six losses but I feel it, you feel that mounting pressure.
“This is a different feeling entirely.”