Kevin Sinfield will become only the tenth player to call Headingley Carnegie Stadium home for both Rugby League and Rugby Union teams when he makes his first Greene King IPA Championship appearance for Yorkshire Carnegie this Friday against London Welsh, kick off 8pm.
Sinfield, who has played twice in the British & Irish Cup for his new club, will return to Headingley Carnegie on Friday night. Nine previous players have made first team appearances for Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie in its various guises.
The first was Tongan international Sateki Tuipulotu, who joined Leeds Rugby League in 1996 having played in the Rugby Union World Cup in South Africa however after a season in the thirteen man code, and with Union having turned professional, he made the move to Leeds RUFC for a record breaking career at the club as Phil Davies’ side rose through the divisions. He made 78 appearances in Union and 9 in Rugby League.
Winger Paul Sterling made just one appearance for Leeds RUFC but 101 for Leeds Rhinos whilst centre Jonny Hepworth had the reverse, he made just one appearance for the Rhinos having emerged from the club’s academy, before returning to Headingley Carnegie with Leeds Carnegie and making 91 appearances.
The player who possibly had the biggest impact on both clubs in a short spell at each was Graham MacKay. The Australian centre arrived at the Rhinos in the 2000 season and helped turn the season around before switching codes with the Tykes and helping them to promotion to the Premiership. He made 20 appearances for the Rhinos and 28 for the Tykes.
Liam Botham called the rugby pitch at Headingley home, much like his famous father did the other side of the Main Stand, for a spell. He made 15 appearances over three seasons with the Rhinos having also made 14 appearances in the Premiership for Phil Davies’ team.
Jon Scales played for Leeds Rugby League prior to the Super League era, making 14 appearances, and he returned to Headingley Carnegie for a brief spell at the end of the 1998-99 season to play eleven games for Leeds Tykes.
Winger Gareth Raynor had a short spell with both clubs, just 12 appearances in total between the clubs, at the start of his career whilst New Zealand Rugby League star Richie Blackmore made seven appearances for the Tykes in the 1999-2000 season having had an injury ravaged campaign with the Rhinos in 1999 despite helping the team to win the Challenge Cup at Wembley. In total, Blackmore made 78 appearances for the Rhinos.
Rugby Union academy product Simon Worrall only made three appearances for the Tykes before trying his hand at League and went on to play 25 games for the Rhinos.
A number of players have started out in the academy for either club and gone on to make their first team debut with the other code at Headingley Carnegie. Rugby Union youngsters who went across to League include Ewan Dowes and 2015 Grand Final try scorer Josh Walters whilst Rhinos Academy players Jamel Chisholm and David Doherty have come across to play their senior rugby with Carnegie.
In recent years, a number of players having also had the chance to play Rugby League in the summer to develop their game in the Rhinos U19 side like Dan Grange, Lewis Jones and Dan Tai whilst current England Rugby Union international Luther Burrell had a spell in the Rhinos Academy during the Rugby Union off season in his younger days before the Huddersfield-born centre returned to the fifteen man code.
There has always been a close link between the coaching staff of both clubs. Francis Cummins, who enjoyed a record breaking career on the wing with Leeds Rhinos, currently follows on from Gary Mercer, James Lowes and Daryl Powell, who have previously been part of the coaching set up at Carnegie.
In addition, Sinfield joins a list of Rugby League internationals who have played Rugby Union at Headingley Carnegie for the home side. That includes Wendell Sailor, Henry Paul, Diccon Edwards, Henry Fa’afili and Semi Tadulala plus a number of players who have come from other League clubs.
This is expected to be a bumper crowd for the visit of London Welsh this Friday and with both teams looking to challenge Bristol at the top of the table it will be a massive clash.
You can book your ticket now 24 hours a day at www.yorkshirecarnegie.com/buytickets or by calling 0371 423 1315 during normal office hours.