MAKING A difference is Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield’s main objective in his new role with the RFL.
The record-breaking former Leeds and England captain started work last week as the governing body’s first rugby director.
Sinfield will spend one day a week based out of the RFL’s Red Hall headquarters in Leeds, working on the performance side of the game.
The rest of his time will be devoted to the business aspect of the code, at Super League’s Manchester nerve centre.
The 35-year-old had been out of rugby league since stepping down from Rhinos following last year’s treble-clinching Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors.
He had a season in rugby union, with Leeds’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie, but hung up his boots at the end of their Championship campaign four months ago.
Sinfield said the broad remit of his new role was one of its big selling points.
“It is only two days a week,” he confirmed.
“It is part-time and it is a great starting point for me because I am probably not ready for a full-time job.
“I am still trying to transition myself out of the playing side, but hopefully it will turn into a full-time role if everybody’s happy.
“I have come in to have a good look at everything and I really hope I can make a difference.”
Explaining his duties, Sinfield – the third-highest points scorer in rugby league history – said: “The first part is working with the performance department at the RFL looking at a whole host of different things, but mainly the England programme.
“I’ll be looking at some of the different things that need to be put in place and having an input into the various age groups, the under-18s, 16s and possibly the Knights and some of the women’s side.
“I’ll also be working on participation, trying to increase the numbers playing the game.
“It is a chance to try a whole host of things and get an understanding of the governance of the sport and what goes on at the top level.”
The rest of his time will see Sinfield take an ambassadorial role, adding practical experience to the knowledge gained during studies for a masters degree in sports business.
“It gives me the chance to work with some very talented people and great characters at Leeds and Manchester,” he added.
“Hopefully I can add to that in some little way.
“The rugby side is something I am really interested in.
“I don’t particularly want to coach, but having an involvement with the England set-up and visiting the clubs really appeals to me.”
Sinfield is dipping his toe into the water, but hopes his new job will become a long-term involvement, at least until the end of the next World Cup cycle in 2020-21.
He is also doing some ambassadorial work and corporate speaking away from his involvement with the governing body and admitted he is enjoying having weekends free – and a rare summer holiday – after 19 years as a full-time professional player.
Asked if he could see himself returning to Rhinos at some stage in the future, Sinfield, who joined the club straight from school, said that is a possibility, but stressed he is now looking at the bigger picture of the game as a whole. He said: “You never say never.
“I loved my time there and I will always have an attachment to that place.
“You can’t just cut ties like that.
“A big part of me is still there and the club is still in me.
“I want them to do well and to win, but I have got a different role now. I have got to do what’s right for the RFL, Super League and the clubs.
“I’m aware of [concerns over] a conflict of interest and I hope people understand I will always have that connection with Leeds, but integrity is very important to me and I won’t do anything that compromises me, or the club or the Rugby Football League.”
Sinfield has confirmed he decided against taking up an assistant-coaching role at Leeds and turned down offers from other clubs to continue his playing career.