Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield insists he has “no problem” being on the bench as he approaches a remarkable 500th game for the club.
The stand-off was dropped to the replacements for last week’s stunning win at champions St Helens, the first time the record-breaking former England captain has been a Rhinos substitute since 2003.
Head coach Brian McDermott opted for in-form 20-year-old Liam Sutcliffe alongside the experienced Danny McGuire in his halves and is expected to do so again tomorrow night when the Super League leaders host Warrington Wolves at Headingley.
But Sinfield, who will join Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of the campaign after an incredible 19 seasons as a first-team player with Rhinos, said: “The team’s playing great and our halves are playing great.
“Everybody’s fighting for a spot and that’s how it should be. My role within the team has changed over the years and my game now is far different to what it was 10 years ago. Being able to change and evolve has helped keep me in the game for so long.
“There are certain things I can’t do – Sutty, Rob (Burrow) and Danny do things I can only dream of – but getting the team around the field, having a good kicking game and bringing the best out of the people around me are my strengths.
“I still believe that’s my role in the team. I have no problem being on the bench.
“I’d love to start, but it has to be the right thing for the team. As long as the team’s winning, everyone’s happy.”
Sinfield will become only the fourth player in the club’s 125-year history to reach 500 appearances if selected.
The 34-year-old said: “It is something I am really proud of. You probably set different goals and milestones along the way. The first is to make your debut, then it’s your first five, first 10, then 50 and so on.
“It seems to have gone really quickly and to play 500 games for a club like ours is a big honour.”
It will be yet another milestone for one of the most decorated players in the sport who debuted for Leeds against Sheffield Eagles aged just 16 in 1997.
He is already the club and Super League’s record goals and points scorer and earlier this season became only the fourth rugby league player to pass 4,000 career points.
Sinfield - who has captained Rhinos to six Grand Final wins, three World Club Challenges and last season’s Challenge Cup - is also now just 22 behind Gus Risman, who is the third-highest scorer in the sport’s history.