Kevin Sinfield eyeing successful Super League swansong

Published: Monday 5th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Kevin Sinfield admits a showdown between Leeds and Wigan will provide a fitting way for him to round off his rugby league career.

The Rhinos’ former England captain, who will switch codes at the end of the season, has the chance to bow out on a high with a seventh Super League ring, along with team-mates Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai, who are both retiring.

Standing in their way of a fairytale finish are the Warriors, who beat Leeds in the inaugural Grand Final in 1998 and were pipped by Sinfield’s men for the league leaders’ shield 10 days ago.

Sinfield told the traditional Old Trafford press conference that the excitement is building as he prepares for an emotional farewell.

“The last few have been exciting, the game at Huddersfield, the play-off at Headingley and to play at Old Trafford again, they are all special,” he said.

“We’re very respectful of Wigan. They’re a great team so it’s a huge challenge for us.

“It’s one and two in the league and I think it’s the final everyone wanted to see. Let’s hope both teams turn up and play like they can and put on a great show for everybody.”

Sinfield, who is to play for the Rhinos’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie in the 15-man code, was the match-winner in Leeds’ thrilling semi-final win over reigning champions St Helens last Friday and Wigan coach Shaun Wane admits he will be a big loss to the game.

“It’s a shame he’s going to rugby union,” Wane said. “I’m sure whatever he does he will be a success at it.

“Part of me will be glad to see the back of him.

“There are a few people in our game who are special. People like Kevin, JP, Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin), Paul Sculthorpe and Adrian Morley are a step above.”

Wigan skipper O’Loughlin, whose side were beaten 14-6 by Saints 12 months ago, is anticipating a close-fought encounter, with two wins apiece in their four meetings so far this year.

“I think both teams are expecting a close one,” he said. “There is a good history in recent years which have produced some classic games and we’ve expecting something similar.”

Saturday’s showpiece is heading for a sell-out, with ticket sales having already topped last year’s crowd of 70,102 for Wigan’s clash with St Helens. Leeds have sold out their allocation and Wigan have just 400 tickets left.

Super League general manager Blake Solly said: “It’s appropriate that, in Super League’s 20th season, in the 120th year of rugby league, that two great clubs meet on the biggest stage. It promises to be another wonderful occasion and we’ve seen unprecedented demand for tickets.”

Wigan are expected to field the team that beat Huddersfield 32-8 in the first semi-final, with no place for England winger Josh Charnley, while Leeds have a slight doubt over second rower Brett Delaney, who has a “dead” leg.

McDermott says he expects Delaney to pull through but quashed rumours that hooker Paul Aiton was set to make his comeback from a broken arm.

“It’s a good rumour is that but there’s nothing in it,” said McDermott, who has the chance to become the first coach to pull off the treble since Daniel Anderson guided St Helens to the Challenge Cup, league leaders’ shield and Grand Final success in 2006.

McDermott added: “It would be incredible for the team to do the treble. We’ve no divine right to do it.

“We’ve got to get over a very strong and a very fresh Wigan team who have got a bit of momentum behind them. It will be a big ask to do that.”

Published: Monday 5th October 2015 by The News Editor

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