Sinfield’s Leeds departure date brought forward

KEVIN SINFIELD will leave Leeds after Sunday’s home Super League clash with Warrington.

The club’s director of rugby, who is to become defence coach at rugby union club Leicester Tigers, was due to depart at the end of the season.

But the 40-year-old, who captained Leeds to three World Club Challenges, seven Grand Final triumphs and two Challenge Cup successes in a sparkling playing career spanning 18 years, has agreed with the club’s chief executive Gary Hetherington to bring the date forward.

Sinfield, who also skippered England, has spent the last three years in his current role, having been the RFL’s rugby director between 2016-18.

He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for fundraising and services to Rugby League.

In December, Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days and raised £2.2 million in support of his former teammate Rob Burrow, who is living with motor neurone disease.

“From the first day I arrived back at the club, I said my only aim was to leave the club in a better position than I found it in,” he said.

“Over the last three-and-a-half years, we have worked tirelessly to reshape our squad under the constraints of the salary cap, we have rewarded our young talent, we have attracted quality players to the club and most importantly we have installed a culture that I am confident we will reap the rewards for in the years ahead.

“When I speak about Leeds Rhinos, it will always be ‘we and us’ that I refer to. Having spent virtually my entire adult life here, just because I will be doing a different day job does not mean that will ever change.

“We have got some exciting projects coming up in the city over the next few years that I will be part of and I will be back at Emerald Headingley whenever my commitments permit.

“Everyone at the club knows I am on the end of the phone and will offer my help and support whenever it is needed.

“I am confident this group of players can go on and achieve even more success for this great club both in the short and long term and I wish everyone all the best.”

Hetherington said: “On behalf of everyone connected to Leeds Rhinos, I would like to thank Kevin for his outstanding service to the club especially since his return in the role as director of rugby.

“His record as a player is unsurpassed and some may have thought it was a risk for him to return, however he answered the call and has steered us through an unprecedented tough period, both on and off the pitch, with great leadership.

“As we hopefully head towards a return to normality and with our squad being finalised for next season, after discussions with Kevin, we agreed that this was an opportune time for him to move on.

“We wish him all the best for his new challenge with Leicester Tigers.”