Kevin Sinfield: Rugby League Bids Farewell to a Legend
(This article contains reference to an interview that took place between myself and Kevin Sinfield at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2015 in Belfast).
“When I realised I was moving on to something else, you have a vision in which you would like it to finish in the end, and that was to finish at Old Trafford by winning the Super League trophy. As the year ticked away and we went a little further in the Challenge Cup and we were doing well in the league, I think you realise that you could be on to something special”.
Leeds Rhino’s 22-20 victory over Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford was certainly nothing less than something special for Sinfield as he closed the curtain on an illustrious career at Leeds which spanned over the course of two decades. Now, applying his trade at Rugby Union outfit Yorkshire Carnegie, Leeds and indeed the whole of Rugby League must bid farewell to a true legend of the game.
Sinfield often remarked that he was not the quickest, nor the strongest, nor the most talented of players, but he would without doubt be the most hard-working. When looking back upon his career in which he remained at one club throughout, the humble satisfaction was clear to see upon the face of the former England captain. The dreams of a determined eleven-year-old who ran out during the curtain raiser at Wembley prior to the 1992 Challenge Cup Final, had been achieved through persistent grind and dedication which can now be looked back upon by a 35-year-old, and one of the last genuine and honest sportsmen to move on from the game.
The concluding year of Sinfield’s career saw him lead his Rhino’s side to their first ever treble, and proved the perfect way to end the career of a man who epitomises the cliché that hard work pays off. The loose forward will be looked upon as nothing short of a role model and icon to others aiming to follow in his footsteps and to reach the pinnacle of Rugby League.
“I have no expectations here tonight, honestly. I’m just delighted to be in the twelve. To be here as a team player, something I’ve done all my career. I’m here to represent the team and probably bigger than that I’m here to represent the sport”.
There was an undisputed aura about Sinfield as he spoke, with many of the Leeds Rhino’s squad huddled in the backdrop, over their former captain’s shoulder, illustrating how he was just as much a captain off the pitch as he was on it. There are no shortcuts to not only reach the top of a sport but to remain at the top for such a prolonged period of time, however Sinfield radiates the attributes and qualities required in order to achieve this, and therefore his final line proved the most thought provoking. There are not many better ambassadors for not only success in Rugby League, but success in sport and indeed beyond, than Kevin Sinfield.
Rugby League as a whole watched on with supreme pride as whilst Sinfield arrived at the Awards simply just grateful to be a part of it, he left the ceremony in Belfast that night with the runners-up trophy after accumulating a total of 278,353 votes. Being the first Rugby League star to be nominated for the prestigious award in 61 years, to achieve this feat was truly astonishing and is yet another accolade to be written alongside Kevin Sinfield’s name. For a man who was never the most talented, his undying work ethic has made him one of the true legends of the game.
Kevin Sinfield. Captain. Leader. Legend.