Kevin Sinfield has achieved the great unfulfilled ambition of his career by being named as the new England captain.
Sinfield, who last week led Leeds to the Super League title for the sixth time, takes over from his Rhinos team-mate, Jamie Peacock, who has retired from international rugby.
"It's the proudest moment of my career – a huge, huge honour," he said. "Jamie was straight on the phone. He's done an absolutely fantastic job. His are huge shoes to fill, but hopefully with a bit of help we can crack on and fill the gap he has left. I've been club captain for 10 years, so I've had a good apprenticeship."
The England coach Steve McNamara's other options were limited, with James Graham suspended after being found guilty of biting in Australia and Adrian Morley inevitably approaching the end of his Test career. "Kevin is an outstanding leader and he was my number one choice," said McNamara. "The standards he sets on and off the field are exemplary."
Sinfield's appointment was announced at England's high-altitude training camp in South Africa, where the squad are preparing for the autumn internationals against Wales and France.
He will lead his country for the first time against the Welsh in Wrexham on 27 October, with the mini-tournament culminating in a final at Salford on 11 November.
Everything is geared to the World Cup in Europe next autumn, with Sinfield, 32, clearly in the box-seat to lead England in the spectacle.
The one question mark is over the position he will play. Generally regarded as a loose forward, he has spent all season at Leeds in the half-backs and has represented his country at hooker.
The one-time Test regular, Stuart Fielden, has signed a two-year contract with Huddersfield. The 33-year-old cost a then-world record transfer fee of £440,000 when Wigan signed him from Bradford six years ago, but he has played only two matches inthe last two seasons because of knee and pectoral injuries. At Huddersfield, he will be reunited with the Giants' new coach, Paul Anderson, who played alongside him in the Bulls side.Reuse content