Sinfield backs McDermott call
Kevin Sinfield was quick to defend Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott's decision to name his Tetley's Challenge Cup final squad early on Monday morning.
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The skipper, who has played every Challenge Cup fixture since the 2005 final for the Rhinos, said that the build-up would be different knowing the squad so early.
He said: "I remember in 2005 we didn’t find out the squad until an hour and a half before kick off because of a late fitness test to Keith Senior so this is great. It means we can all get excited together as a group.”
Sinfield is the only member of the Rhinos squad to have won the Lance Todd Trophy and he is the 13/2 favourite to make it a double this weekend.
One thing likely is that if Leeds are to win - for the first time since 1999 - then the club captain will be at the forefront of their success:
He said: "I'm excited to be getting another chance. I’m not getting any younger so I don’t know if I will get many other shots at it."
The Rhinos are the favourites at 2/5 and have a -8 handicap - a figure they defeated Castleford by earlier this season.
However, the Tigers have improved as the year has progressed and gained a well-earned point at Headingley last month.
There hasn’t been a draw in a Challenge Cup Final since 1982 but the odds on a replay this year are shorter than in recent times at 20/1.
While Castleford’s odds of 100/1 to win the Challenge Cup at the start of the season have trimmed so have those for Daryl Clark to be named Man of Steel.
He started 2014 at 50/1 to gain the individual award, but he is now 7/2 second favourite, highlighting his importance to the Tigers side.
"If you had told at the start of the season that I would be playing in a Tetley’s Challenge Cup final and fourth or fifth in the league, I’d have laughed at you” said the Tigers hooker and many would agree with him.
He's 9/4 to score anytime at Wembley and, considering he has scored 12 times already this term, these odds are appealing.
A Leeds penalty as first scoring play this weekend is also enticing at 8/1 - Sinfield opted for this in the semi-final against Warrington and, in finals, it’s something the Rhinos like to do.
Nevertheless, the try scorer markets will be popular and Tom Briscoe – the hero of the semi-final for Leeds – is 10/1 second favourite to open the scoring in the capital.
He said: "It is pretty amazing to be a part of this team and getting that try at a crucial moment in the semi-final felt very special - I hope I can have the same impact on Saturday."