CROSS-CODER Kevin Sinfield admits he has a “great opportunity” tonight as he makes his league debut for Yorkshire Carnegie.
Head coach Bryan Redpath has thrown the former Leeds Rhinos captain into his starting line-up for the crunch Championship game against fallen Premiership side London Welsh.
League legend Sinfield switched codes only a few weeks ago and has played just two games. However, Redpath has seen enough from him in the British & Irish Cup – a cameo off the bench in the win against an Ospreys Select and the full 80 minutes during last week’s 14-9 loss at Munster – to believe the 35-year-old can take control from the pivotal fly-half role.
Carnegie could go top if they win and leaders Bristol slip up against London Scottish. Struggling Welsh have lost five of their nine league games since suffering relegation but Sinfield, 35, insisted: “We certainly won’t under-estimate them. It’s a great opportunity for me to play a team that was in the Premiership last season.
“They’ve got some great players and I’m looking forward to testing myself while hopefully improving and helping the team to a great performance. But we need to win as well – it’s important we keep winning especially at home. They are a huge set and they will cause us some problems but we’ve trained well and some guys have had a bit of a rest during the B&I Cup so they’ll be ready for this.”
Sinfield is confident he is ready for the challenges of directing Carnegie in only his third game in a new sport.
“It was good to get some more minutes under my belt playing against a decent Munster side who had one or two drop down from their first team,” he added.
“I needed that to see where I was at and what I needed to work on going forward. With every session I’ve improved whether in building the trust and honesty you have with your colleagues at most teams but also my game understanding.
“Having played a full 80 minutes there’s certainly things I know I can go better at. Getting used to the differences is what’s interesting – a lot of things I saw in league over 20 years are almost the polar opposite in union. But I’m enjoying it and looking forward to Friday.”
Sinfield is one of many who has impressed Redpath in the recent B&I Cup games with Taylor Prell retaining his spot on the wing and, likewise, Richard Beck at blindside.
Meanwhile, Carnegie hope to attract plenty of Sinfield’s Rhinos fans to see him make his league bow and he admitted: “It will definitely be great if there is some crossover (of fans). With union being a predominantly winter sport, it does give league fans at the end of their season an opportunity to come out and watch a bit of rugby.
“I know it’s very, very different to rugby league – you can’t compare the two – but you can appreciate both. Hopefully a few will be a little inquisitive and we don’t disappoint.”