KEVIN Sinfield admits he misses it “every single day” and has every intention of returning to rugby league but insists he has no regrets over his code switch.
The former England captain brought the curtain down on his illustrious career in the 13-man game in October after leading Leeds to the treble and is now four months into his new life as rugby union player with Yorkshire Carnegie.
Sinfield, whose book on his rugby league career is published on Saturday, had intended to support the Rhinos from the stand once he quit as a player but reveals he has so far attended only one game.
“I went to the World Club Challenge, which was quite difficult to watch,” Sinfield told Press Association Sport.
“It’s tough because I miss playing rugby league every single day and I will for the rest of my life, I’m sure.
“I played with a number of them for 10 or 15 years and those bonds will never leave you. It’s been quite difficult getting the right balance between being there and giving each other a break from it.
“At times I’ve been torn by that but I was delighted to see them win on Friday. I was at home cheering them on.”
Leeds have struggled in the absence of their inspirational skipper, as well as the retired Jamie Peacock, and were bottom of Super League after three rounds but they have won two of their last three and Sinfield is confident they will be challenging to retain their trophies.
“They’ve had a real tough spell but that’s been down to injuries and to add to that the training ground was flooded and becoming nomads makes life really difficult,” he said.
“Also the team is built for summer rugby and the conditions so far aren’t conducive to that. As the grounds firm up, I have complete confidence that group will flourish, as they started to do on Friday night.”
Sinfield, who reveals in his book that he had planned to quit the the Rhinos at the end of the 2016 season had he stayed on, says he is still getting to grips with the 15-man game.
Contracted for another season with Bryan Redpath’s men, he has no definite retirement date in mind but concedes he would love to test himself in the Premiership.
Carnegie are virtually guaranteed a place in the Championship promotion play-offs and on Sunday Sinfield kicked four goals in a 33-32 win over Jersey that puts them through to the final of the B&I Cup.
“I’m getting better,” Sinfield said of his fly-half role. “I’m learning.
“I’m still making plenty of mistakes, as you could imagine for somebody who had never played a game in his life.
“The lads have been really welcoming and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. To have something like this at 35 has been brilliant, it’s probably opened my eyes a bit.
“It looks very similar to rugby league but when you start playing it’s so, so different. I’ve played league since I was seven and to suddenly break down some of those instincts and start to find fresh ones is very, very difficult. It’s been testing but I’m glad I did it.”
Sinfield’s achievements in rugby league were recognised with his nomination for BBC Sports Personality of the Year and it seems appropriate that a biography should accompany his raised profile, although he admits he took some persuading to eventually put pen to paper.
“I have to say it was not something I fancied doing at all, certainly not while I was playing,” said Sinfield, who hopes to put his masters degree in sport business to good use in rugby league when he finally hangs up his boots.
“But when it finished like it did at the Grand Final, I got another approach from the publisher with the specific idea of telling my rugby league career with pictures and it felt like a really good time to reflect on my career.
“It developed a fair bit from that and there’s a fair few more words than I anticipated but it was quite a nice thing to do I and really enjoyed it.”
In the book, Sinfield recalls how he went close to signing for both Wigan and Warrington, who offered almost double the money on the table from Leeds, but anyone expecting a warts-and-all tale on the lines of the autobiographies from the likes of Sean Long, Adrian Morley and Gareth Hock will be in for a big disappointment.
The perfect role model for any aspiring player, Sinfield’s character and stature is effusively summed up by that other gentleman of rugby, Jonny Wlikinson, in his foreword, although even if he was upset by anybody in his 18 years as a rugby league professional, he was not likely to divulge it.
“I don’t have any skeletons in the closet or any crazy, wacky stories to tell,” Sinfield said. “I’ve had plenty of fun but I’ve been pretty straight laced.
“I think there are things in the dressing room that don’t deserve to come out. The only way I was going to do a book was of this nature.
“I think if you’ve nothing positive to say, don’t bother saying it.”
• Kevin Sinfield - My League Years is published by Great Northern Books