Comment: Kevin Sinfield should stick to the hooking role
Leeds Rhinos produced a superb performance to see off a spirited Castleford on Thursday night, in a game that nobody could have failed to enjoy.
I’ve spoken quite a bit already about both teams so far this season, as they have continued to impress me. In particular, how good was Kevin Sinfield at hooker? I thought he had an absolutely incredible game.
He was so good that it’s hard not to conclude that it is his best position. When Leeds are back to full strength, they could do a lot worse than leave Kevin in the dummy-half role. I said this a few years ago when he had his best international series. It came in 2009 when his acting-half play was largely responsible for England reaching the final of the Four Nations.
Since then he’s only fitted in at hooker sporadically, but it’s always been a position he’s taken to like a duck to water. Many, including me, wondered for a long time whether he was still suited to the loose forward role, and I think we’ve seen the answer to that as Leeds and England have had him playing in the halves.
Even in those positions, he’s had his critics, including me. The general consensus is that he will always be one of the best players on the pitch, but that he never really looked like a natural loose forward, stand-off or scrum-half.
But when he plays at hooker, he really does look like he belongs there. His influence on the game is even greater because a hooker gets his hands on the ball so much. Whereas the modern hooker tends to excel at running from dummy-half, at the expense of having perfect distribution, Kevin is a throwback to the dummy-halves of yesteryear who gave great service from minute one to minute 80.
The England coach Steve McNamara is spoilt for choice for hookers, but if he chooses to play Kevin there he’ll have no arguments from me.