Kevin Sinfield named England captain
Kevin Sinfield has been chosen by England Rugby League to succeed Leeds Rhinos team-mate Jamie Peacock as England captain.
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Sinfield's appointment was announced to the England senior squad during their first night on African soil as they start a 10-day high-altitude training camp in Potchefstroom ahead of this year's Autumn International Series against France and Wales.
Sinfield, who skippered Leeds Rhinos to their sixth Super League crown last Saturday when they defeated Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford, said: "I am immensely honoured to captain England Rugby League.
"Representing your country is always special, but to captain England will be the proudest moment of my career to date."
Sinfield's achievement in leading his team to Super League glory, winning the man of the match award despite being knocked out early in the second half, reinforced his credentials to captain the national team.
Sinfield, 32, added: "There could have been a number of candidates for the job, when you look at the number of leaders we have in the squad, but (England coach) Steve McNamara has asked me take up the role and I will do it to the best of my ability.
"When you look at the talent we have in the squad, we are in great shape. We have a big 12 months ahead with the Rugby League World Cup at the end of it and we have to give ourselves every chance of creating history.
"Steve McNamara is leaving nothing to chance and our preparation continues to be planned in fine detail and I will relish being part of that process."
Sinfield will lead England for the first time in the Autumn International Series opener against Wales in Wrexham on October 27.
A clash with France follows a week later, on November 3 at Hull KR's Craven Park ground, before the series final in Salford on November 11.
McNamara said: "Kevin is an outstanding leader and was my number one choice when selecting a successor to Jamie Peacock.
"The standards he sets both on and off the field are exemplary. He commands the ultimate respect from his fellow professionals and will take this group of players forward in what promises to be a demanding yet rewarding year for England Rugby League."
Warrington skipper Adrian Morley, who was the vice-captain under Peacock and led the team in his absence, told www.superleague.co.uk: "I'm made up for Sinny. He is a great leader and is the perfect successor to Jamie.
"He is an exceptional professional and does everything to his maximum.
"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for English rugby league and he will give the team great leadership both on and off the field."
Morley will cherish every second he gets in an England jersey after fearing his days were numbered when he missed out against the Exiles last summer.
He was dropped by McNamara after a stop-start first half of the season with Warrington but forced his way back into contention after successfully undergoing surgery to combat a career-threatening eye injury and is now hopeful of playing in the 2013 World Cup.
"After missing out against the Exiles, I was determined to get back in the squad," said Morley, who became England's most capped player when he made his 50th international appearance against Australia in the Four Nations final last November.
"I feared it was over and I didn't want my international career to end this way.
"Now I feel I can continue playing for my country right through the next few weeks against Wales and France and see what happens after that.
"We have a lot of competition for places in the front row. There are some great forwards coming through with Chris Hill, Lee Mossop and Luke Burgess all ready to play their part.
"To be training alongside these lads has sort of given me a new lease of life, which I love.
"I still have the desire to be part of the England programme and give it all I can to play in the World Cup next year.
"The squad that is being assembled is the best we have had for a long time and the work we are doing behind the scenes, such as the high-altitude training in South Africa, is diverse and professional.
"It is just what is required if we are going to attack the World Cup on home soil. It is an exciting time to be part of the national set-up and I can't wait to play my part."