Cameron Smith aims to follow in footsteps of role model Kevin Sinfield with iconic jersey

CAMERON SMITH is hoping to do justice to the number 13 shirt previously worn by role model and club legend Kevin Sinfield.

The 24-year-old forward has not only been promoted to that jersey for the 2023 season, but signed a new long-term contract to stay at Headingley until 2026.

Smith, a Rhinos Academy graduate who has collected 101 appearances for the club since his first-team debut in 2016, played loose forward for much of last year, with the occasional appearance at halfback, including in the Super League semi-finals and Grand Final.

His impressive displays have earned him the shirt most famously worn by Sinfield, for whom Smith has the highest admiration as a player and person.

“Kev was the guy that I looked up to coming into the full-time environment,” Smith said of Sinfield, who won seven Super League titles with the club and has raised more than £7 million for motor neurone disease causes through challenges for his former team-mate Rob Burrow.

“Even with what he’s done recently, he’s such a special character. 

“For me to wear the same number he wore is pretty special.”

Smith also appreciated Leeds’ head coach, namesake Rohan Smith, for backing him to star as a ball-playing forward.

“I’ve got to thank Rohan for coming in and wanting me to express myself in that number 13 role,” said the England Knights international. 

“(The game) went away for a while in terms of being able to distribute the ball from the middle of the field, exactly how Kev played. 

“I’m just extremely lucky that the Rhinos, such a big club, want to promote the way I play the game.

“Hopefully I can do the shirt some justice and do my bit for the team as we go and do something special.”

Nene Macdonald, whose signing from Leigh Leopards on a two-year deal was confirmed last week, will wear the number four shirt, while Richie Myler, who played at fullback for most of the year, has been rewarded with the number one shirt after wearing squad number 16 last season.

Leeds 2023 squad: 1 Richie Myler, 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Harry Newman, 4 Nene Macdonald, 5 Ash Handley, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Mikolaj Oledzki, 9 Kruise Leeming, 10 Zane Tetevano, 11 James Bentley, 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Cameron Smith, 14 Jarrod O’Connor, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Derrell Olpherts, 17 Justin Sangare, 18 Tom Holroyd, 19 James McDonnell, 20 Morgan Gannon, 21 Luke Hooley, 22 Sam Walters, 23 Liam Tindall, 24 Luis Roberts, 25 James Donaldson, 26 Corey Johnson, 27 Toby Warren, 28 Max Simpson, 29 Jack Sinfield, 30 Levi Edwards, 31 Leon Ruan, 32 Oli Field, 33 Joe Gibbons, 34 Alfie Edgell, 35 Riley Lumb, 38 Jack Smith.