Leeds have confirmed that director of rugby Kevin Sinfield OBE will leave the club at the end of the current season.
The 40-year-old former Leeds and England captain will join Steve Borthwick’s coaching staff at Leicester Tigers, the Premiership Rugby have confirmed.
Sinfield made his club debut in 1997 and was appointed captain in 2003 and won seven Grand Final, two Challenge Cups, three World Club Challenges and three League Leaders’ Shield in a career spanning 18 years.
Retiring in 2015 before a brief spell with Yorkshire Carnegie, he returned to the Rhinos in July 2018 to take up the newly created position as director of rugby.
Sinfield said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions of my career. It has been a privilege to return to the club and help take us forward into the future. When I returned, I always said I would review my role after three years and that my reason for coming back was to help the club. The last eighteen months have been a huge challenge and the role has changed significantly from the job I first came to do. My position is now further away from performance than I ever thought it would be.
“I love the club and the people I work with but I feel now is the right time for a new challenge. As well as the role changing, I have changed through my experiences in the last eighteen months both at the club and through my fundraising activities.
“I am proud of our record over the last three years as we have rediscovered the spirit of the Rhinos within this group with a squad of young, talented, home grown players secured on long term contracts for the foundations of a new era of success in the years ahead.
“Rugby league has been central to my life since I was seven and I will always consider myself as part of the rugby league family. I am not leaving the sport, I am just doing a different job and I will continue to help the sport wherever I can.”
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington added: “Like all Rhinos fans, I am extremely disappointed with Kevin’s decision. We always hoped he would enjoy a long career with us. I agree the director of rugby role has changed and we did discuss other roles at the club but it is not to be.
“I do understand and appreciate Kevin’s reasons for leaving for a new and different challenge. On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank Kevin for the fantastic job he has done over the last three years in particular the unprecedented challenges over the last eighteen months. Undoubtedly, when he leaves the club, he will leave it in a much better position than when he returned.”