Yorkshire Carnegie: Sinfield will crack code switch believes Bentley

John Bentley
John Bentley
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DUAL-CODE INTERNATIONAL John Bentley has backed rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield to make a success of his switch to union with Yorkshire Carnegie.

The former Leeds Rhinos captain is set to make his Greene King IPA Championship debut on Friday against London Welsh at Headingley Carnegie.

British Lion Bentley switched codes in 1988 to join Leeds before returning to union when the game went professional in 1995.

He is part of the Carnegie backroom staff and believes Sinfield will make an impact for his new club, but says it will take time to adapt to the 15-man game.

“I think Kevin will have a positive impact on Yorkshire Carnegie and his ability to control a game, even though he has come across from rugby league, is impressive,” Bentley said. “He will find it difficult with two additional players on the field, particularly the angles they come at you from when defending. That is something that will initially be totally alien to him.

“The key ingredient for all cross-code converts is dealing with the contact area.

“Rugby league is extremely fast and confrontational, but when you get tackled the game stops momentarily and restarts very quickly whereas in rugby union when you get tackled the game actually commences.”

Sinfield has made two appearances for Yorkshire Carnegie in the British & Irish Cup, coming on against the Ospreys Premiership Select a fortnight ago before playing 80 minutes at fly-half at Kinsale against Munster A last Friday.

Bentley added: “Fly-half is pivotal to everything else that happens in the team and it is not an easy position to play.

“He has the defender in front of him, but also a number seven whose primary role is to get to him and destroy him and Kevin will have to deal with that.

“We, as a team, should benefit from his tactical kicking and awareness, which is second to none.”

Carnegie are hoping for a bumper crowd this week. Bentley commented: “The eyes of the world are not on him, but there is a lot of interest in how he is going to adapt and what sort of impact he is going to make.

“He has come to the game to fulfil an unanswered personal challenge, having achieved everything he can in rugby league.

“He has watched the game over the years and he now has the opportunity to answer the question, ‘can he?’ which is great and shows the personal motivation he has to be successful.”

l Joe Simpson has called on new boss Eddie Jones to employ high-octane, attacking rugby to transform England’s fortunes.

Scrum-half Simpson orchestrated the rapid tempo as Wasps blitzed reigning three-time European champions Toulon 32-6 in Coventry on Sunday.

The 27-year-old missed the cut for England’s dismal World Cup campaign that cost Stuart Lancaster his head coaching job, with Jones filling the void last week.

Now Simpson has freely admitted England adopting extra ambition, width and pace would boost his chances of a recall from the Test wilderness.

“I believe there’s been a shift in the brand of rugby all teams are going to have to start to play now,” said Simpson, who still boasts just one cap.

“With England, with the players they’ve got, they most certainly have the talent to throw the ball around.”