Ahead of Kevin Sinfield’s third game in charge of the Leeds Rhinos, we look at whether the appointment will not only be good for the club itself but will it be a success for Sinfield’s career as a coach?
Throughout his career, Kevin Sinfield has been one of the best Rugby League players to watch and has been such a good role model for young, budding Rugby League players off the field too. The time came for him to hang up his boots after achieving the treble in 2015, and after a brief stint in Rugby Union, Sinfield is back at his beloved club, hoping to be a Rhinos success once more.
Since his recent appointment as Director of Rugby with the Rhinos, he has had a short turnaround with the possibility of partaking in a second Qualifiers series looming large. Being a coach is something he has previously expressed an interest in doing, so what better place the start than at the Emerald Headingley Stadium with the club he has had an affiliation with for over 20 years.
2018 has been a carbon print of 2016, where Leeds finished ninth before the League split, and with two games of the regular season left, it is looking highly likely that will be the case again. A draw and defeat in his opening two matches indicates a tough start to his new era, yet a clash against basement side, Widnes Vikings, gives a real opportunity to get his first two points on the board.
Sinfield has all the skills needed to be a hit at the reigning champions. Firstly, he has good man management skills, being a young coach. He was a player not so long ago, so he has even more empathy for players because he was in their shoes less than three years ago!
In addition, the 37-year old has been in and around the Rhinos for so long, so will know the ropes better than any alternative managerial candidate would. The people he is working with are all familiar with him, with the likes of Rob Burrow already in the coaching setup.
In addition to coaches, the playing personnel is a huge factor which could determine his success. Despite being a young squad, many players at the Rhinos are superb professionals who have won many titles with Sinfield, so he already has an assembled group with the mentality needed to win.
Having James Lowes as his first team coach is also a big help, as he is another familiar face in West Yorkshire who has first-hand experience of operating at a big club. Leeds have always been a huge side and are one of the names people think of when it comes to Rugby League in the UK.
It feels surreal to see them in a position where they need to fight to stay in Super League once again, but after Brian McDermott’s departure, there is no underestimating the task at hand for Sinfield and co.
He may have the first-hand knowledge of playing against other sides in the division, and overcoming them on a regular basis, but as history has shown, returning to your former club in a business/managerial capacity doesn’t always have a happy ever after- just ask Keiron Cunningham.
What do you think?