Sinfield - Tough task for Wigan
Leeds skipper says Super League champions will do well to juggle treble ambitions
Last Updated: 08/02/11 10:52am
Sinfield: challenge for Wigan
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield thinks Super League champions Wigan might find it as hard to battle on three fronts this season, just as the Rhinos did last year.
Sinfield's hopes of leading his side to a fourth consecutive Grand Final triumph were scuppered by the Warriors in last September's semi-finals, with Wigan going on to beat St Helens at Old Trafford to claim their first title for 12 years.
The two sides meet again at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium next Saturday in a match that will bring the curtain down on day one of the Magic Weekend.
Sinfield will be an interested spectator ahead of Leeds' own season-opening derby encounter with Bradford 24 hours later and is keen to see whether Wigan can succeed where the Rhinos failed 12 months ago.
They had their sights set on the treble before being undone by Melbourne in the World Club Challenge and then losing to Warrington in the Challenge Cup final.
"The World Club is an extra challenge at the start of the year that makes it very difficult to peak for and to be able to peak later on in the year and again at the end," said Sinfield.
"It's very tough, especially when you have a number of players on international duty and you're coming back with a short pre-season.
"I think Wigan will be finding it out this year that it takes a lot of juggling to be able to get your timing just right.
"It's very difficult to find the perfect ingredients but it's a challenge I am sure they will relish and I'd like to think at some stage in the future we'll get the chance to put that right."
Leeds completed their preparations for the new season this week by spending four days on a farm in a remote part of North Yorkshire.
With new coach Brian McDermott deciding against the warm-weather training in Cyprus preferred by Brian McClennan last season, his players instead stayed in a youth hostel near Richmond.
There, the players undertook kitchen duties before being sent out to help the local farmer feed 400 sheep, build a dry stone wall and shovel manure.
They used a local rugby union club for some on-field training and also went walking and mountain-biking.
"He's just refreshed the whole place," Sinfield said of McDermott, who served as assistant to Tony Smith at Headingley before moving to the top job at Harlequins.
"In many ways it makes it sound like we've not been hungry to win trophies but I think Mac coming in has given us more of a purpose this time.
"It could possibly be linked in with the fact that we didn't win anything last year. There is certainly a lot of hunger in the group, you can see that with the way we've trained.
"It will be different this year. I'm sure teams will be gunning for Wigan like they did for us in previous seasons.
"If you don't quite turn up on any given day, the competition has improved that much that you will get beaten. We learned that lesson a few times last year. Certainly our performances need to improve."
Raring to go
Leeds will be without England internationals Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire for the first three months of the season as they continue their recovery from major knee surgery.
Sinfield, however, is fit and raring to go after sitting out the Four Nations Series to rest an Achilles injury.
"It's the first full pre-season I've had for a long time and I'm starting to feel the benefits, as are the rest of the lads," he said.
"JP and Danny are a big loss but having the rest of the squad from the start means we've been able to fix a few things and I think we're in good shape."