KEVIN SINFIELD insists Castleford Tigers will be wasting their time if they try riling him again in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final.
The Leeds Rhinos captain faces them for the first time since infamously getting the only red card of his illustrious career for headbutting Luke Dorn.
Sinfield, 33, was banned for two games having uncharacteristically lost his cool in last month’s 24-24 draw at Headingley.
Asked if he is expecting Castleford to attempt to coax a similar reaction at Wembley, the stand-off said: “I don’t know. I’m not that bothered. One (red card) in 500 and odd games…
“It’s not something I can concern myself with. For me I’m focused on playing well.
“If they want to spend some time trying to wind me up then watch out as Rob Burrow is very quick. There’s those things that are going on as well.”
It will be the England captain’s sixth Challenge Cup final but he has, of course, yet to lift the famous trophy with Leeds losing on all six occasions since last prospering in 1999.
Much has been made about the gilded player’s long quest to complete the missing part of his vast trophy collection.
With six Grand Final wins and three World Club Challenge victories in just 10 years, he is comfortably the West Yorkshire club’s most successful captain.
However, as Sinfield prepares to attempt to redress the balance in the Challenge Cup, he explained how he does, in fact, already possess that elusive medal given his admittedly brief involvement as an 18-year-old.
“I played in the (‘99) quarter-final and have actually got a winner’s medal from back then,” said Sinfield, who, incredibly, leads the club into his 19th final.
“Sometimes we under-value medals when we’ve not played.
“But then for me to under-value a medal like that, when we’ve got lads in our squad who won’t play on Saturday, seems pretty harsh. So, I am proud of that medal and the part I played.
“However, it was only in 20 minutes of a quarter-final...”
Sinfield insists there is no “mental block” when it comes to this Leeds side’s so far failed attempts at winning the sport’s oldest knockout competition.
This is the fourth time in the last five seasons they have reached Wembley while they endured earlier losses against Bradford (2003) and Hull FC (2005) in Cardiff.
Sinfield was also harshly dropped for the defeat to Bradford at Murrayfield in 2000 and he said: “There’s no mental block. There might have been 10 years ago but as you get older you become a bit more chilled.
“They all hurt. To lose on that stage when friends and family are there, of course it hurts, and it stays around a while as well.
“But I’m quite philosophical about it now. I can shy away from the fact we’ve another shot and can go in pretty timid and fearful about what might happen.
“Or I can roll my sleeves up and give it my best shot and that’s what I intend to do. I’m certainly not going to dip my toe in. I’m going to jump straight in.
“I’ve been asked probably 50 times whether my career would be incomplete without this but I probably won’t know until I’ve finished.
“I do know, as I’ve got older, you sometimes take the game out of context – there’s things far more important.
“I want to win that trophy but if it’s not to be then people’s health is far more important.
“Doing some of the things I’ve done lately – I’ve been to quite a few prostate cancer awareness events – I’ve seen things we are probably cocooned from.
“A wise old man – (ex-Huddersfield scrum-half) Tommy Smales – once said to me the best medals you’ll have are your kids. He said that 15 years ago and I fully understand what that means now. I’m in a really good place and there’s an excitement about the group for Saturday.”
Hooker Clark v Burrow: Page 25.