Sinfield ignores past demons

Kevin Sinfield's only focus when he takes the field at Wembley will be winning the Challenge Cup

Kevin Sinfield's only focus when he takes the field at Wembley will be winning the Challenge Cup

First published in National Sport © by

Kevin Sinfield insists there will be no looking back when he enters Wembley on Friday afternoon for the first time since England's heartbreaking World Cup semi-final defeat there last November.

England were 20 seconds away from securing a place in the final when Sinfield shot out of the defensive line and missed a crucial tackle that enabled New Zealand half-back Shaun Johnson to score the match-winning try.

It was the latest in a series of agonising defeats the Leeds and England captain has suffered with club and country at the national stadium.

He was in the England team that went down 36-20 to Australia in the 2011 Four Nations Series and was on the losing side in three consecutive Challenge Cup finals at Wembley from 2010-12.

Leeds were also beaten finalists at Murrayfield in 2000 and in Cardiff in 2003 and 2005 and will be looking to halt the dismal sequence when they take on local rivals Castleford at Wembley on Saturday.

Before then Sinfield, whose only cup winners' medal came courtesy of a brief quarter-final appearance during Leeds' successful 1999 campaign, will lead his team out for the traditional eve-of-final walkabout on Friday afternoon and insists he will have a spring in his step.

"There won't be flashbacks," he said. "I look forward to it and am excited by getting another chance as I'm not getting any younger and don't know if I'll get another shot. I'd like to think I would but we'll see.

"The chance of playing in a packed Wembley Stadium again whether we've lost in the past - which we have - doesn't put me off.

"I'm certainly not going to start dipping my toe in. I'm going to jump straight in like everyone else and try to get the most out of the game that I can and help my team as much as I can."

Oldham-born Sinfield is delighted to see Castleford make it an all-Yorkshire final but admits a Rhinos victory may leave him with mixed feelings.

It was Castleford coach Daryl Powell who appointed Sinfield captain of Leeds during his three-year spell in charge at Headingley and the two have remained close friends ever since.

Sinfield reckons Powell is a certainty to be named Super League coach of the year after transforming the fortunes of the Tigers in his first full season but is hoping to disappoint him in the final.

"It's remarkable what he has done, revitalising the whole town to get the best out of the players they've got," Sinfield said. "He's coach of the year definitely.

"They've got some fantastic players, don't get me wrong, but they're playing nine out of 10 every week and for a coach to be able to do that is superb.

"I like him a lot. I played with him, have been coached by him and, of course, he made me captain.

"I'm glad he's gone there and done well. He's a nice man and a very good coach, as we've seen.

"Hopefully we can be good enough on Saturday to get the result we want. It's just a shame it's against Daryl."

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