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Sinfield enjoys perfect start to coaching career

Yesterday represented Leicester Tiger’s opening game of the season and Kevin Sinfield’s first as a coach.

The Tigers began their campaign with the visit of Exeter Chiefs who finished second last year four places above the Tigers as the 10-time Champions continued their recent struggles. Perhaps, that’s the reason Leicester turned to serial winner Sinfield this year as the former Rhino made his first leap into coaching.

Leicester, like Sinfield’s Leeds, were once the dominant force in the Premiership winning four titles in seven seasons from 2007-2013. Yet, they’ve struggled to find a way back up the table in recent years. In many ways they struggles they’ve experienced are not too dissimilar to Leeds’ difficulties since Sinfield’s retirement in 2015.

Interestingly, Sinfield perhaps kickstarted Leeds’ return to glory when he took over as Director of Rugby in 2018 and assembled the squad who carried Leeds to Challenge Cup success last year.

But his desire to be a coach took him to rugby union this summer and yesterday he and his Leicester Tigers side enjoyed the perfect start to the season as the seven-time Super League Champion looks to restore the Tigers’ dominance.

In a difficult season opener, Leicester downed Exeter who have been one of the top teams in recent years. A dominant first half from the Tigers did the damage. In the first 40, Leicester only conceded the one try showing the worth of Sinfield as a defence coach.

It might surprise some seeing Sinfield take over in a defensive role given the value he always brought to the Leeds attack, but he was also a proficient defender during his rugby league career. He was very rarely beaten on an edge and even came up with one of the best and most important tackles in Super League history when he tackled Kyle Eastmond into touch in the 2009 Grand Final.

He appears to be bringing that same kind of commitment to the Tigers defence this year with many experts commending their efforts yesterday.

Ultimately, Sinfield’s side came away with a 34-19 win leaving the former Leeds man pleased. So the question remains, could he again be a part of a successful side? The early signs seem to suggest he could be.

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