BRYAN REDPATH has revealed the lengths Kevin Sinfield has gone to in order to make sure his transition from Leeds Rhinos legend to a rugby union success is a smooth one.
Sinfield’s professionalism, determination and attention to detail has never been questioned in rugby league.
Such diligence, and no little skill, has led to the former England captain becoming one of the most decorated players the sport has seen.
However, having switched codes at the age of 35 – the stand-off officially joins Yorkshire Carnegie in a little over a week’s time – after lifting the Super League trophy for a record seventh time as Rhinos captain, he knows he has to start over.
The move was announced in March since when Sinfield has been engrossed in helping to drive Leeds, where he is the club’s record points scorer and greatest captain of all time, to an historic maiden treble success of the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final glory.
Nevertheless, Carnegie head coach Redpath has disclosed how the prolific points scorer, who debuted for Rhinos in 1996, has, at the same time remarkably being undergoing an in-depth education in the 15-man code, too.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of tomorrow’s Championship home game with Moseley, he said: “The last six weeks he’s been watching training sessions and watching game DVDs with me.
“I’m meeting him now to go through the whole of the Bristol match with him.
“He’s been practicing his kicking with both balls for the last three months (union and league use different models) and he’s good to go in terms of his knowledge of the game.
“Kev wants to get on with it now and the quicker we get him out there the better,” Redpath added.
Considering his off-field commitments as Leeds captain since 2003, let alone those on-field requirements, it is staggering how Sinfield has found time to take it all in.
But Redpath, whose Carnegie side sit second in the league after seven rounds, added: “That’s what makes it more special.
“Not a lot of people will have known Kev was doing all this on top of his Rhinos commitments.
“But no-one can say his performances have dropped even though he’s being going through so many games with me watching DVDs and things like that.
“It’s a testimony to him and the sort of person he is.”
Asked what sort of a student Sinfield is, the former Scotland captain said: “He’s great.
“He’s loved that part of it – going through the games and analysing what happens when and why.
“Kev wants to soak it all up and he obviously sees the players a lot in and around Kirkstall at training and Headingley.
“He’s been great with all the new boys, too, texting them all to say how’s he looking forward to playing with them, and his professionalism is second to none. It’ll be great to see what he can bring to the team.”
Sinfield, with his kicking prowess and astute handling, is expected to play as a fly-half for Carnegie and Redpath is intrigued to witness if the one-time Golden Boot winner as the world’s greatest rugby league player can, among other things, bring some greater variety to his side’s attacking play.
For all they had won five of their opening six games before losing 47-42 at new leaders Bristol, much of their try-scoring has come from line-out drives.
Sinfield, it is hoped, will be able to bring some more subtlety and guile in midfield, while prompting a variation on that pack-dominated theme.
He has signed an 18-month deal and Redpath added: “Kev is keen as mustard already and we know there’s traits that can cross over from league.
“The line speed and areas of attack are two things we can use but it’s just great to have someone of his experience in and he’s a breath of fresh air.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he fares in the tackle as, in union, we want to put people on the floor and that’s where the contest starts. But in league, they try and hold the opponent up and slow that part of the game down, or get them on their back.
“A lot of league players who move across have to work hard in that area but there’s no 10m to get back every time, either.
“I’m really enjoying working with Kev and will see how he fares.”