KEVIN SINFIELD will leave Leeds at the end of the season.
The 40-year-old director of rugby and former Rhinos and England captain has been strongly linked with a switch to rugby union to join the coaching team at Leicester.
As skipper, Sinfield helped Leeds to seven Grand Final triumphs and two Challenge Cup wins.
As well as being the club’s record points-scorer, he is the highest scorer in Super League and the third-highest points-scorer in British rugby league history.
He won 14 caps for Great Britain and another 26 for England.
After his last match for Leeds in 2015, he had a brief stint in rugby union as a player with the Rhinos’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie before being recruited by the Rugby Football League to be its rugby director.
He returned to Headingley in a similar capacity in 2018.
“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my career,” he said.
“When I returned, I always said I would review my role after three years and that my reason for coming back was to help the club.
“The last 18 months have been a huge challenge and the role has changed significantly from the job I first came to do.
“My position is now further away from performance than I ever thought it would be.
“I love the club and the people I work with but I feel now is the right time for a new challenge.”
Sinfield has just been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for fundraising and services to Rugby League.
In December. he ran seven marathons in seven days and raised £2.2milion in support of former teammate Rob Burrow, who is living with motor neurone disease.
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “Like all Rhinos fans, I am extremely disappointed with Kevin’s decision.
“We always hoped he would enjoy a long career with us. I agree the director of rugby role has changed and we did discuss other roles at the club but it is not to be.
“I do understand and appreciate Kevin’s reasons for leaving for a new and different challenge.
“Undoubtedly, when he leaves the club, he will leave it in a much better position than when he returned.”