Kevin Sinfield is playing his last season with Leeds Rhinos.
At a media conference today at Headingley Sinfield has confirmed that he will leave the Rhinos at the end of the season to join Yorkshire Carnegie, the rugby union club that shares Headingley with the Rhinos.
“At the end of the season I will be playing rugby union for Yorkshire Carnegie,” confirmed Sinfield today.
“I have been here since I was 13. The club means so much to me but at some stage it had to end.
“It seems to me the logical decision going forward.”
Sinfield, 34, is on the brink of becoming only the fourth player in Leeds’ history to play 500 games for the club and is the all time leading goal and points scorer in the club’s history. He is currently fourth in the all time list of Rugby League points scorers and has led the Rhinos to 12 titles in 19 Finals so far, having been made captain in 2003 when he was just 22. He has made 26 appearances for England, including captaining his country at the 2013 World Cup, and has made a further 14 appearances for Great Britain.
“This was one of the toughest decisions of my career,” added Sinfield.
“But I know the time is right for me to finish my time in Rugby League and embark on a new challenge with Yorkshire Carnegie. I never wanted to play against the Rhinos and throughout my career I have always had an admiration for Rugby Union and wanted to challenge myself in that code. I am fortunate as a professional player in this era that opportunities like this exist for me and it is something I want to grab with both hands.
“Sir Ian McGeechan, the new board and owners of Yorkshire Carnegie have set out ambitious plans to gain promotion from the Greene King IPA Championship next season and regain their place in the Aviva Premiership and that is something that excites me. It is a new challenge for me and I know I will have a lot to learn however we spend a lot of time with the Carnegie players at our training ground at Kirkstall so that will help me settle in.
“My entire adult life has been spent at Leeds Rhinos and I am extremely grateful for all the support I have had over the past two decades. My goal now is to do whatever I can to make sure we have further success this year and finish the season and my Rhinos career on the best possible note,” added Sinfield.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, “When Kevin signed his last five year contract in 2012 it was with the understanding that he could decide to leave at the end of any season, unrestricted, provided we were notified at the start of the season so we could begin to play for the future. If any player in the history of our club deserves the right to choose when he moves on to the next stage of his career it is Kevin Sinfield. Kevin notified me of his decision six weeks ago and I alerted the new management of Yorkshire Carnegie of his availability and desire to play Rugby Union. We are pleased he will remain at Headingley Carnegie and he has agreed a contract with Yorkshire Carnegie until June 2017 from 1st November this year.
“He has been an inspirational leader on and off the field for Leeds Rhinos over the last decade and I think there can be little argument that the success we have enjoyed would not have been possible without him. Kevin was contracted for next season with the club and had always insisted that his Rhinos career would not go beyond that point, the fact that date has been brought forward twelve months may be a shock to some but we are happy to agree to his wishes and allow him to set a new challenge for himself with Yorkshire Carnegie,” added Hetherington.
Yorkshire Carnegie Executive President Sir Ian McGeechan commented, “I have admired Kevin Sinfield as both a player and an individual for many years. His professionalism, attitude and commitment are top class. I am sure he will be a great addition to our squad for next season and his goal kicking record speaks for itself. The signing of Kevin Sinfield and the recent appointment of Bryan Redpath as Head Coach are clear indications of the ambition of our new management and owners. We look forward to having Kevin on board from November for our challenge to regain our place in the Aviva Premiership.”