Kevin Sinfield MBE has announced that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current Greene King IPA Championship Rugby Union season.
The former Leeds Rhinos and England Rugby League captain switched codes to Yorkshire Carnegie in November 2015 and has helped his new team reach the British & Irish Cup Final and the end of season play offs. Yorkshire Carnegie will take on Doncaster Knights this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie in the semi final first leg, kick off 3pm. The return match is a week later at Castle Park. The winners, on aggregate over the two legs, will progress to the final with promotion to the Aviva Premiership available to the eventual winners of the two-legged Final.
Sinfield, who was runner up in the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year last December, has made 14 appearances since making his debut for Yorkshire Carnegie against the Ospreys Premiership Select in November and is set to return to the side for Sunday’s game.
Sinfield ended his Rugby League career last October leading Leeds Rhinos to the treble in his final game for the club at Old Trafford. The decade he wore the captain’s armband will be remembered as a golden era that brought unprecedented success.
Commenting on the announcement Sinfield said, “I have been privileged and deeply honoured to have enjoyed a 20 year career as a professional rugby player and to retire, on my own terms rather than through injury, is something I feel lucky to be able to do. I have always said that some day I will need to get a proper job and that day has now come. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last seven months with Yorkshire Carnegie and I would like to thank the coaches, players and supporters for making me feel so welcome. I have always gave total commitment to every team I have ever played in and therefore I have decided to hang up my boots at the end of this season. A number of opportunities have become available to me for life after rugby and I need to make the right decision for me and my family. However, before then we have got hopefully four massive games ahead of us, starting this Sunday against a very good Doncaster side at Headingley Carnegie."
Yorkshire Carnegie Head Coach Bryan Redpath added, “It has been great to have Kevin involved in our squad this season, especially for the large number of young players we have in our group. He is a total professional and the example he sets is something that all young players can aspire to. He has had an incredible career in Rugby League and it has been great for us to have him finish his career as a Yorkshire Carnegie player. He is a natural winner and that attitude and drive will be more important than ever for us as we head into the play offs looking to book our return to the Aviva Premiership.”
Sinfield’s services to Rugby League were recognised in 2014 when he was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and he fulfilled a long held ambition to finally lead the Rhinos to glory in the Challenge Cup.
In 2012 he became the leading points scorer in the club’s history and finished his career third in the all time list of points scorers in the history of Rugby League.
Kevin has always been recognised as an extremely special player since he joined the Rhinos in 1996 and made his debut whilst still a 16-year-old against Sheffield at Headingley in 1997. He went onto be part of the squad that made it to the 1999 and 2000 Challenge Cup Final, only to miss out on a place in the Final line up.
In 2003 he was appointed as captain of the Rhinos by Daryl Powell and led the side to the Challenge Cup Final with a dramatic touchline conversion against St Helens in the semi final to send the game into extra time.
In 2004 he led the side to their first ever Grand Final victory and the first league title in 32 years. In 2005, he then lifted the World title as well as appearing in another Cup and Grand Final, winning the Lance Todd trophy in the Cardiff Cup Final defeat to Hull FC.
There were further accolades in 2009 when he added the Harry Sunderland Award as Leeds secured an unprecedented three titles in a row.
2012 was another outstanding year for the Rhinos captain as he guided his Rhinos side to a second consecutive Super League title, was named the Harry Sunderland winner for the second time, secured World Club honours, was named the England captain and won the Autumn international series. He was also recognised for his achievements by becoming only the fourth Englishman ever to win the prestigious Rugby League Golden Boot.
Fittingly in his 521st and final game for the Rhinos, Kevin made history again as Leeds completed a record breaking treble in 2015. He finished with 3,968 points including 1,832 goals.