LEEDS RHINOS director of rugby Kevin Sinfield admits trying to transform the struggling club’s fortunes has left him waking in the night and he also revealed suffering from “self-doubt” even at the height of his playing days.
Sinfield is preparing his side for Sunday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves while knowing they then face a battle for Super League survival in the Qualifiers.
The former England star retired in 2015 as Leeds’s most successful captain, winning seven Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups, but is now back in different circumstances after taking over from the sacked Brian McDermott earlier this month.
Friday’s loss at lowly Salford Red Devils was another sobering affair and Sinfield was asked how he was coping with the pressure and whether he was sleeping.
“It’s not so much that I can’t sleep, but I just wake up in the night thinking of conversations I’m going to have with certain players,” he said.
“There are things you want to say and things you probably run through your mind a couple of times to make sure you get it right. But I am enjoying it. It’s been a great challenge.
There are things you want to say and things you probably run through your mind a couple of times to make sure you get it right. But I am enjoying it. It’s been a great challenge.Kevin Sinfield
“It is quite tiring, especially juggling the other role (RFL rugby director) as well. It’s pretty busy, but it’s great to be back at the club.”
Sinfield, who won the 2012 Golden Boot as the world’s greatest player, admitted he had sleepless nights during his earlier career. He said: “At times, yes, before big games.
“Probably not many people talk about it, but you have that self-doubt as well.
“You question whether you’re good enough to be in that particular arena at that particular time.
“I think that’s what comes with being involved with big occasions and big games.”
Leeds had 10 players missing against Salford and Sinfield says he will not know until later in the week if he will have any returning for the semi-final in Bolton.
“We’re hoping Richie Myler will be back,” he said.
“There’s a slight chance Brett Ferres will be back and the same with Ryan Hall and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, but all the decisions will be made later on in the week.”
Leeds back-row Jordan Thompson has been hit with a two-game ban for a Grade C dangerous contact during his debut against Salford, but he is cup-tied regardless.
Elsewhere, Hull KR’s Maurice Blair could be facing a lengthy ban after being charged with ‘other contrary behaviour’ in the derby win at Hull FC. He was seen making a gesture to the home fans after being sin-binned in the second period for disputing a decision.
Blair has been referred to night’s tribunal on a Grade D charge, which could lead to a suspension of up to five games – a significant blow as they prepare to fight for Super League survival in the Qualifiers.
Team-mate Will Oakes was handed a one-game penalty notice for a trip in the same game.