KEVIN SINFIELD is optimistic about Leeds Rhinos’ chances this year, but reckons it will be “more difficult” to win a seventh Super League title.
Rhinos kick off their new campaign away to Hull KR in 11 days’ time and their captain is delighted with the way pre-season has gone.
However, he feels rugby league’s new format – which will see the 24 Super League and Championship clubs split into three groups of eight after 23 weekly rounds – makes the task of reaching and winning the Grand Final even harder.
Super League’s top eight will play an additional seven matches in the new mini-competition before the leading quartet go into knockout semi-finals for a place at Old Trafford. The RFL claim the new format means “every minute matters” and Sinfield said getting off to a flier is vital.
“Everyone’s talking about getting out of the blocks early and starting well,but we can’t all do that can we,” he reflected.
“But I think we’re ready. I’m pretty optimistic, we’re in decent shape and looking forward to getting started at Hull KR.”
Of the task ahead in Super League, Sinfield said: “I’d say (winning) it will be more difficult. The last two times we’ve won it (in 2011 and 2012) we’ve had the luxury of coming from fifth and obviously that loophole has now been closed for us, but we’re all interested to see how it pans out.
“We understand how tough it’s going to be to get in that top eight to start with and then moving forward getting in that top-four, too.
“I think we’ll have an understanding after the first season of what it takes and the requirements, but I think we’re all in the dark at the moment.”
Sinfield added: “We don’t quite know how it will go, but I do quite like the new system, the idea of Super-eights, playing some really tough games towards the end and then rolling straight into a two week play-off.
“I think it will be a good competition.”