Sinfield a role model for Rhinos forward Ward


Leeds Rhinos forward Stevie Ward has hailed former team-mate Kevin Sinfield as the biggest influence on his career.

Sinfield is a legend at Headingley after spending his entire career in rugby league with the Rhinos and he signed off as a treble winner having won the League Leaders' Shield, Challenge Cup and Grand Final last season.

The 35-year-old has subsequently opted for a new venture with Yorkshire Carnegie in rugby union bringing an end to a career in league that saw him win seven Grand Finals, three League Leaders' Shields and two Challenge Cups.

Ward, 22, has spoken glowingly of the impact Sinfield had during the early days of his career and believes his runners-up prize at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards is just reward for his stellar career.

"He has been [the biggest influence on my career]," he told Omnisport. 

"Not just on the field but off it. He helped me through getting my education when there were tough times doing my A-levels. Kev was there helping me because it's what he went through when he was younger.

"To see him come second in Sport's Personality of the Year - where it's almost unheard of to see rugby league acknowledged to that level - and for him to have had so much to do with the club and me personally, it made me proud and happy that Kev got that. 

"It's a great way for him to round off his rugby league career. Kev's not one of them people that loves the media attention. To get that award, I thought was suited for what he's done for the game."

Ward, who is recovering from surgery on a serious knee injury, says Sinfield's national recognition will lead to more youngsters taking up the game.

"I think it will make a lot of young people and kids take up the game because finally it mixed us [rugby league] with other sports and rugby league held its own," he added.

"So when they see people like Kevin and for what he's done in the game that's what people want they grow up, role models who are a success.

"When they see a fine example of that on the television it's great for the game and we saw that with rugby league coming together to support Kev. It's brilliant for Kev and the sport as a whole."