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Kevin Sinfield says a lack of satisfaction in his director of rugby role at Leeds Rhinos was the key behind his decision to switch codes.
Sinfield is set to be confirmed in a role on Leicester Tigers’ backroom staff at the end of the current Super League season after three years back at his boyhood club. As a player he captained the Rhinos to seven of their eight Super League titles before returning to Headingley in an off-field role following a brief spell at Yorkshire Carnegie.
Recently, he was awarded an OBE to add to his previous MBE, for the fundraising he has done for his former team-mate Rob Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. His exit is seen as a major blow to Leeds and the 13-man code, but Sinfield insists it was a personal decision, and that Burrow’s fight against the disease has given him fresh perspective on life.
Sinfield earned fans around the country through his fundraising for Rob Burrow
Sinfield said: “It’s been a really difficult decision. However over the last 18 months the role has changed significantly to the one I came in to do. You add in what has actually happened in the last 18 months with some Covid stuff, some bits around Rob and the fundraising taking place – plus some persecutive from myself – and I just thought it was the right time.
“When I came back I always said it would be to help, and after three years I think this is what’s right for me and the club, because I love the place and the people I work with. But what I came back to is I’m just not getting enough satisfaction from the role, and it’s time to embark on a new challenge and look to do something new.
“I feel I’m too far away from the rugby and from performance. The role had become a lot of administration, and not enjoyable administration. It became a role that I got no satisfaction from whatsoever. I certainly got some perspective from Rob and it hammered it home you have to do something you truly enjoy and get satisfaction from, and that’s where I find myself.”
Sinfield led the Rhinos to an unprecedented seven Super League titles as captain
(Image: Clive Brunskill)
Sinfield has stressed that he will remain fully committed towards the Rhinos for the rest of the campaign, and that his love for rugby league will not be affected by his move.
He explained: “I might be doing a role away from the sport but that does not mean my commitment, support and love for the sport will change – I’ll always have that. But it’s time to move on. This hasn’t just happened over the last couple of days, it started in December to be honest.
Asked whether he could return to league again one day he added: “We’ll see. What's clear for me is in this moment in time is that I’m ready for a change and a new challenge. I’ll never say never – I love this club. I might be leaving this role but I’ll help the club and the sport in any way I can.”