Former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield has been hailed as one of rugby league’s all-time greats.
The sport’s governing body, the RFL, have paid tribute to Sinfield after he finished second in the voting for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
Sinfield, who led Rhinos to an historic treble this year before switching codes to join Yorkshire Carnegie, was the first rugby league player to be nominated for the prestigious award and received 28 per cent of the vote.
He polled 278,353 votes to finish second behind tennis star Andy Murray, with 361,446 (35 per cent). Yorkshire athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill was third with 78,898 (eight per cent).
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, said: “Kevin Sinfield is without doubt one of the greatest players to ever play rugby league.
“He is an outstanding individual and a superb role model and I congratulate him on finishing second in the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
“I have known Kevin for many years and could not think of anyone more deserving of this recognition. He is the ultimate professional, an inspirational captain and the way in which he finished his rugby league career, leading Leeds Rhinos to a historic treble, was a fitting end for a true great of our sport.”
Wood added: “This award caps an incredible year for rugby league in this country. A series win for England against New Zealand, a new Super League format in which the League Leaders’ Shield was decided with the last play of the game and now recognition from people across the country of one of the best rugby league players of the last 20 years. It has a lot to live up to, but I can’t wait for the 2016 season to begin.”
Chairman of the RFL, Brian Barwick, said: “What a tremendous achievement for Kevin Sinfield and thank you to all rugby league supporters who voted for him.
“Finishing second in such an outstanding field of contenders makes it a very special night for rugby league.
“Kevin is a very humble guy, but his immediate legacy to the game is to put it right at the forefront of British sport on what is always a very important night.
“Kevin and Leeds Rhinos can reflect on a very special season which was rightfully showcased.”
Rhinos were longlisted for team of the year and boss Brian McDermott was also considered in the coach category.
Lizzie Jones, widow of Welsh international Danny Jones who died after being taken ill playing for Keighley Cougars in May, sang during the event’s tribute to sports people who passed away in 2015.
Barwick said: “Lizzie Jones’ performance of Danny Boy was acknowledged by a standing ovation in the arena. Lizzie is a credit to our sport and we are all incredibly proud of her.”