COACH BRIAN MCDERMOTT is confident Leeds Rhinos will make a successful transition to life without Kevin Sinfield.
McDermott said it is impossible to over-estimate the scale of the change Rhinos will go through when Sinfield leaves to join Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Club in November, but he insisted: “There are exciting times ahead for the Rhinos, Carnegie and Kevin. For the past couple of years we have been blooding juniors and giving them more game time and making them more experienced. Liam Sutcliffe [who has played at stand-off in Rhinos’ last two games, with Sinfield out injured] has been showing since 2013 what a quality player he is.
“Add to that the continued development of Brad Singleton and Stevie Ward’s emergence again as one of the best players in the competition at the moment. Young Ash Handley has gone on the wing for [shoulder injury victim] Tom Briscoe and is playing really well, so I think there’s some really exciting and healthy times ahead for the Rhinos.”
But McDermott stressed: “That’s not to say we won’t miss Kevin, as a player or a leader. That’s something [chief executive] Gary Hetherington and myself are tasked with managing.
“We have to manage that transition, but it can be done. It is an exciting period for us, but we are not under-estimating what a role Kevin has had with the team and the club for nearly 20 years.”
Meanwhile, Sinfield is aiming to return to action over the Easter period as he begins the countdown to the end of his Leeds Rhinos career.
Sinfield has sat out Rhinos’ last two games due to a hamstring problem, but was hoping to run in training today. Rhinos visit Castleford Tigers on Friday before a home derby against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Monday and Sinfield said he is confident of featuring in at least one of those games.
Tigers full-back Luke Dorn has signed a 12-month contract extension until the end of the 2016 season.