Leeds Rhinos: Sinfield maps out flexible strategy for retirement

Kevin Sinfield.
Kevin Sinfield.
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RECORD-BREAKING CAPTAIN Kevin Sinfield has revealed he wants to complete two decades in Leeds Rhinos’ senior team.

Speaking for the first time about his long-term plans, Sinfield – who will be 34 next month – said he intends to play on until at least the end of 2016.

That will see him complete an incredible 20 seasons in Rhinos’ top side, after he made his first-team debut in August, 1997.

But Sinfield stressed he will only play for as long as he feels his body is up to the job and he is able to contribute to the cause.

Sinfield was appointed Rhinos captain in December, 2002 and has led them to top spot in Super League twice, six Grand Final wins and three World Club Challenge victories.

Next week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final against Castleford Tigers – 17 years and one day after his debut – will be his sixth, though he has yet to collect a winner’s medal.

The England skipper is also Leeds and Super League’s record goals and points scorer and only four players in history have exceeded Sinfield’s current career tally of 3,913 points.

“In an ideal world I would love to do another two years,” Sinfield revealed.

“It would be an honour to play for 20 years at this club, but we will see.

“It is not set in stone, if I feel at the end of next year it might be time, then I’ll think again.

“If at the end of two years I am feeling great, then I will try and go again, but if I can do another two that will be really special.”

Sinfield confirmed his current contract keeps him at the club until the end of 2016 and he added: “I signed in August, 1994, so I have already had a decent stint here.

“Because I am not from Leeds people think the club does not mean as much as to people who were born and bred there.

“But I have been there a long, long time and they are responsible for what I am.”

Sinfield returned to Rhinos’ side last Saturday after a two-game ban and kicked four goals in the 24-16 Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington Wolves.

Despite almost 17 years in the thick of the action, at loose-forward or stand-off, he said his body still feels good and he is enjoying his rugby as much as ever.

“Over the years you change,” he said. “You don’t quite have to reinvent yourself, but you have to change how you play and keep up to date with how the game is going and the speed of it.

“I am aware of what my strengths are and there’s no set date (for retirement).

“I do know at some stage I am going to have to retire, I am aware of that.

“Over the next, two, three, four or five years there’s going to be quite a big transition, with some of our senior boys finishing.

“I understand that if we all go at the same time it makes it tough, but hopefully I can put myself first and make the right decision for the club, at the same time.”

Sinfield said he is confident the club’s future is in good hands, with young academy-qualified players including Liam Sutcliffe, Elliot Minchella, Rob Mulhern Josh Walters and Robbie Ward all having tasted senior action this year.