Sinfield backing Ward
Skipper tipping youngster to shine at Wembley
Last Updated: 23/08/12 4:15pm
Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield believes Stevie Ward is made for the Challenge Cup final against Warrington.
The 18-year-old has been included in coach Brian McDermott's 19-man Wembley squad five months after making his Super League debut.
Ward has been dubbed the new "Kevin" after being compared with his club captain, who was also playing Super League for the Rhinos while studying for his A-levels, and Sinfield is expecting his young team-mate to live up to the billing.
Sinfield is the only Leeds player to have won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match - in his side's 25-24 defeat by Hull in Cardiff in 2005 - and he would not be surprised to see Ward emulate him and become the youngest winner in the 66-year history of the prestigious award.
"He's full of enthusiasm and he's got plenty of class about him. To be given an opportunity like that at 18 years of age is unbelievable but I think he'll relish it."
Sinfield on Ward Quotes of the week
The record is held by Peter Ramsden, who picked up the award on his 19th birthday after scoring two tries in Huddersfield's 15-10 win over St Helens in 1953.
"It's probably made for him," said Leeds' long-serving player. "As an 18-year-old, you don't have any fear.
"He's full of enthusiasm and he's got plenty of class about him. To be given an opportunity like that at 18 years of age is unbelievable but I think he'll relish it.
"I think you'll probably see his best game this year."
Ward, a back-row forward who has partnered his captain at half-back in the recent absence of Rob Burrow, has a long way to go to match the achievements of Sinfield, who has smashed the club's records for goals and points and become Leeds' most successful captain of all time.
Yet Sinfield does not feel the comparisons are mis-placed.
"We are different in so many ways but I can understand a few of the similarities," he continued.
"We both combined doing our A-levels with playing in the first team and we play similar positions but he's a different player to me.
"I have a lot of time for him. I think over the next few years he's going to turn out to be a star of our competition - I have no doubt about that - and to play a part in his early development has been fantastic.
"How he's dealt with this year so far, completing his A-levels and playing outstanding well in the first team, shows the quality he's got about him, not just as a rugby player but as a person as well."