FORMER CAPTAIN Kevin Sinfield says it will be “huge” if Leeds Rhinos can sign dual-code international Sam Burgess.
Sinfield is in his first full week of training with Yorkshire Carnegie, after switching codes at the end of Rhinos’ treble-winning campaign.
He is the latest high-profile rugby league player to try his hand at union, but his switch has come at a time when Burgess is being strongly linked with a return to the 13-a-side game.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington this week confirmed the Challenge Cup holders and Super League champions have told Burgess’ club, Bath, they are keen to sign him if he decides to quit union – and will be willing to pay a transfer fee.
Burgess’ former side South Sydney Rabbitohs are also desperate to bring him back to league, but Sinfield believes the 26-year-old would be a massive attraction in Super League.
Sinfield played alongside Burgess for England and he said: “I know he has been linked with the Rhinos and that would be fantastic.
“I am a Rhinos supporter now and it would be great for the team, but Sam will do what’s right for him.
“It would be huge to have him back in Yorkshire and at Leeds. It would be fantastic, I know there has been a lot of speculation about the Rhinos and I think if he was to join any Super League club, it would only be the Rhinos.
“But having said that, I am sure there is a lot of interest from the NRL, in particular South Sydney. That’s a place that is very close to his heart. We will see what happens, but I think whether Sam decides to stay [in union] or not, I think he will show everybody what a fantastic rugby player he is.”
Sinfield insisted Burgess will be a loss to union if he does decide to move back to rugby league. The Dewsbury-born star was heavily criticised following England’s disastrous World Cup campaign and is understood to be unhappy in his new code.
Sinfield said: “I have to say, I think he has done extremely well.
“To play in a World Cup after 12 months is remarkable. It would be a huge waste [to union].
“Possibly they don’t realise what they’ve got on their hands at the minute.
“I am sure [coaches] Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell and everyone involved in England do and I’m sure Mike Ford at Bath does as well. It is really easy to criticise and I think the big disappointment from a lot of people who know Sam is the number of ex players who have come out who don’t know him and don’t understand enough about him and have had a bit of a pop at him and a cheap shot towards him.
“I think it would be a huge loss to rugby union if they lost him, but having said that, I am a rugby league supporter as well and it would be great to see him back in the game.”
Meanwhile, coach Bryan Redpath has confirmed Sinfield is available for Carnegie’s Championship fixture at Bedford on Saturday, but insisted he has not yet decided whether to include the rookie in his squad.
Sinfield, who will play fly-half for Carnegie, admitted: “I’d love to have a run.
“It may be a bit too early, but if he [Redpath] asked me, I’d certainly say yes.”