Kevin Sinfield makes rugby union move as Leicester defence coach

The former Leeds Rhinos player and director of rugby is leaving for the 15-man code.

By Press Association Published: 17 June 2021 - 12.11pm
Rugby Union

Leeds United

Rugby League

Former England and Leeds rugby league captain Kevin Sinfield will join Leicester’s coaching staff for the 2021-22 season, the Gallagher Premiership club have announced.

Sinfield, who has spent the past three years working as director of rugby at the Rhinos, will take up the post of defence coach.

The 40-year-old won seven Super League titles and two Challenge Cups during an illustrious playing career with Leeds. He also spent one season in rugby union with Yorkshire Carnegie.

Sinfield had been working in an administrative position at Leeds
Sinfield had been working in an administrative position at Leeds (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sinfield, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to rugby league and fundraising, said: “I am really looking forward to this new opportunity in my career and the chance to work with Steve Borthwick, his coaching team and the playing group he is building at Leicester Tigers.

“It is a big challenge, but one that I know I am ready for and – after speaking with Steve – I am looking forward to joining the club at this stage on its journey and getting to work in Leicester.

“I am delighted to be able to join a huge club like Leicester Tigers with such a great history and supporter base.”

Sinfield will take up the role vacated by Mike Ford, who left Welford Road earlier this week.

Steve Borthwick is looking forward to working with Sinfield
Steve Borthwick is looking forward to working with Sinfield (Mike Egerton/PA)

Tigers head coach Borthwick said: “It is incredible to be welcoming someone of Kevin’s calibre and experience to our club.

“The vast and unique experience that Kevin will bring to our coaching means he is a great addition to our team. He is a serial winner and an inspirational character who possesses the hard-working and tough qualities we want at Leicester Tigers.”

Oldham-born Sinfield spent his entire 18-year rugby league playing career with the Rhinos and left as their record points-scorer in 2015. He also earned 14 caps for Great Britain and 26 for England.

He later had a brief stint in rugby union with Yorkshire Carnegie before taking up a position with the Rugby Football League. He returned to the Rhinos in his current capacity in 2018.

“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my career.”
- Kevin Sinfield

He feels it is now time to move in a different direction after admitting he did not enjoy the administrative elements of his job.

Sinfield said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions of my career. It has been something I’ve agonised over. I probably started reflecting in December and it’s taken me a number of months.

“But (the job) has become very political, a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of red tape, and in and around that has been a difficult 18 months for everyone.

“It has very much changed my role to administration, and not enjoyable administration. It’s become a role where I get no job satisfaction from whatsoever.

“I understand a lot of people out there don’t get satisfaction from their job and I understand I am fortunate I get to choose, but I think it is the right thing for everybody.

“The club is in a stable position and will continue to grow and get better.”

Sinfield (right) has been inspired by his former Leeds team-mate Rob Burrow
Sinfield (right) has been inspired by his former Leeds team-mate Rob Burrow (Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Taking on a more hands-on coaching role is something that appeals to Sinfield and he feels the plight of former team-mate Rob Burrow has helped inform his decision.

Sinfield is close to Burrow, who is now living with motor neurone disease.

“I just feel I am too far away from the rugby, too far away from performance,” said Sinfield, who captured public imagination last December when he raised more than £2million for the MND Association by running seven marathons in seven days.

“I think I have certainly got some perspective from Rob. It has hammered it home to me you have got to do something you truly enjoy and get satisfaction from and that’s where I find myself.”

Sinfield does not expect his move to end his involvement in rugby league.

Sinfield has spent most of his life in rugby league
Sinfield has spent most of his life in rugby league (Steve Parkin/PA)

He said: “My heart and my head will remain firmly in rugby league. The sport has given me everything I’ve got, it’s given me the best memories and friendships I could ever wish for.

“I played the sport since I was seven. It still means everything to me and that will remain.

“There are a number of former players this sport has who don’t work in the sport but continue to be great ambassadors and champion rugby league. I’d love to be one of those.”

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