Sinfield: I almost quit the international game

Kevin Sinfield has revealed he almost made a shock early retirement from the England team after the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

Sinfield, who played 27 Tests for England and 14 for Great Britain, played sparingly in the 2008 tournament decider in Australia.

Writing in his new book Kevin Sinfield – My League Years, the 35-year old said he was’t enjoying his time with the national point at that time.

“I remember flying home from Australia at the end of 2008 thinking ‘this isn’t going to happen for me’,” he said.

“I thought that either I wasn’t good enough, or the quality of people in my position – Andy Farrell and Paul Sculthorpe were outstanding in my early years at international level – meant it would be tough for me to get into the team.

“The style of play we used under various coaches possibly didn’t suit my build at that stage; I just wasn’t big enough to play in the positions I was being asked to. Sam was poorly at home, I had sacrificed a lot and I wasn’t particularly getting anything back in return.

“Not that you should in international rugby; you are prepared to make those sacrifices to represent your country, but though there had been some good times on tour, I wasn’t really enjoying my rugby. You get the best out of me when I am enjoying it and that wasn’t happening.

“I came close to saying ‘that’s it with internationals’, but then in 2009 things got a whole lot better.”

Smith felt a big change in the England set-up with the appointment of Steve McNamara.

“2010 was the first year when I really felt wanted and part of it. I think I played my best international rugby under Steve Mac, even though Tony had been my club coach.

“Under Tony, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, but I am glad I stuck with international rugby. I really enjoyed playing under Steve and the way he wanted us to play and the environment he created.

“He brought in a change of culture. Up to then there had been club cliques and certain players didn’t get on, but that all changed under Steve. He tried to break all that down and get us to enjoy each other’s company.

“He came up with a philosophy of playing for two teams, rather than one club. I think that worked really well and we saw the fruits of that with England’s
Test series win over the Kiwis in 2015.”

Kevin Sinfield – My League Years is published by Great Northern Books and is available from all good bookshops and www.greatnorthernbooks.co.uk.

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