Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield is ready to put his Wembley hoodoo to bed this weekend by finally lifting the Challenge Cup – but insists he won’t be having painful flashbacks about his previous experiences at the national stadium.
Sinfield lost three straight Challenge Cup Final matches between 2010 and 2012 at Wembley, before enduring the heartbreak of that late Shaun Johnson try which sent England crashing out of the World Cup last Autumn. But he said he’s not the type to be put off by his record at Wembley – nor is the rest of his Rhinos squad, and they’re ready to finally end that horrific run of cup final heartbreak by defeating Castleford Tigers this Saturday.
“There won’t be any flashbacks,” Sinfield said. “I look forward to it and I’m excited by getting another chance, as I’m not getting any younger, and don’t know if I’ll get another shot. I’d like to think I would, but we’ll see.
“The chance of playing in a packed out Wembley Stadium again – whether we’ve lost in the past or not – doesn’t put me off. I’m certainly not going to start dipping my toe in regarding the game. I’m going to jump straight in like everyone else, and try get the most out of the game – and help the team as much as I can.
“There’s an excitement in the group; we’ve not got a great record in Challenge Cup Finals so the easy thing to do is walk away and not have another crack at it. But we keep getting up off the canvas and having another go. That’s the type of character we have in this group.”
Sinfield also believes the Rhinos can take confidence from their big game experiences of the past – saying their record in the famous old competition is as good as the rest.
“We can take some confidence from our dressing room,” he added. “I think we all have some self-doubt from time to time, but when you look at our dressing room and in and around the boys, it’s incredible.
“There’s JP (Jamie Peacock) sat there – who’s an ultimate warrior. Kyle Leuluai, JJB (Jamie Jones-Buchanan), Danny (McGuire), Rob (Burrow) – I could keep going on and naming them all. We’ve been able to turn it on in big games.
“Our record – finals aside – is actually as good as anybody in the last ten years; it’s just been unfortunate we haven’t been good enough on final day. We live with that, yet we keep getting back up and going for it.
“If it’s not this group that wins it – or if it’s not this time – then the club will win it. The club is in great nick, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we bring that piece of silverware back to Headingley.”