LEEDS RHINOS legend Kevin Sinfield will take his first steps in rugby union on Sunday (Nov 15) when he makes his debut for Yorkshire Carnegie.
Sinfield, who switched codes after captaining Rhinos to an historic trophy treble last month, has been named among Carnegie’s replacements for the British and Irish Cup tie against Ospreys Premiership Select at Huddersfield YMCA (1.30pm).
The third-highest points scorer in rugby league history has been training with his new team for two weeks and sees tomorrow’s tie as an opportunity to measure his progress and see how much he still has to learn.
“I just want to have a game,” said Sinfield.
“I have done a decent amount of training now and I just want to get a read on where I am at, what I need to do now and where I need to go.”
Securing promotion into the top-flight is the priority for Carnegie this year and the British and Irish Cup offers Sinfield an opportunity to test the water before his likely Championship debut at home to London Welsh in 13 days’ time
“I am really enjoying it so far,” said the 35-year-old former England captain, who led Rhinos to seven Super League titles, two Challenge Cup victories, top spot on the table three times and a hat-trick of World Club triumphs.
“It is new, it’s fresh and every bit the challenge I thought it would be. All the lads are fantastic, but I need to play and hopefully I will get a taste on Sunday.”
Sinfield spent his entire rugby league career at Leeds, making his debut in 1997, but he said the relationship between his former club and Yorkshire Carnegie has helped with the transition.
“Training is very, very similar,” he said.
“The length of the sessions and some of the contact is similar and the gym work is pretty much identical, but I know I have got a lot to learn. I have been like a sponge, trying to soak everything up.
“I have picked up a lot and hopefully that will continue, but a game will give me some indication of where I go from here.”
Only three of the team which started last week’s Championship defeat at Bedford have retained their place for tomorrow: full-back Jonah Holmes, second-row Matt Smith and flanker Josh Bainbridge.
Scrum-half Chris Pilgrim will captain the side and prop Ben Hooper is poised to make his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury.
Youngster Jordan Poole is another player in line to make his debut off the bench.
Coach Bryan Redpath is keen to see Sinfield in action, alongside some of the club’s fringe players.
He said: “Kev has got better every session.
“He will be on the bench and we’ll see when it is right to introduce him. He is picking up stuff every session and learning and this will give him some reality.
Redpath added: “We’ve picked a strong side.
“We’ve got quite a few lads who have not played as much over the first nine or 10 weeks and it is an opportunity for them, as well as some of the younger lads who have been out on loan or injured.”
Carnegie’s team is: Holmes, Doherty, Wright, Lucock, Prell, Hodgson, Pilgrim, Beech, Graham, Hooper, Schofield, Smith, Beck, Bainbridge, Williams. Reps: Poole, Capps, O’Donnell, Ryder, Barnard, Sinfield, Forsyth.