Super League: Kevin Sinfield admits makeshift hooker role is not his cup of tea but happy to roll up his sleeves to keep Leeds Rhinos at the top

Leeds and England skipper has had to deputise in the number nine given the injury and illness to Rob Burrow and Paul Aiton

Leeds and England captain Kevin Sinfield admits playing hooker does not come natural to him but he is happy to take on the role for the sake of his club.

After starting out as a loose forward, Sinfield has settled into the stand-off role for club and country but since the Rhinos lost both their hookers, Rob Burrow and Paul Aiton, to injury and illness respectively, he and second rower Chris Clarkson have been sharing the role.

That is set to continue on Saturday night when the Super League leaders take on reigning champions Wigan in the final match of the opening day of Manchester's Magic Weekend.

"I'd prefer to stay in the halves," Sinfield said. "Myself and Danny (McGuire) have a great working relationship - he's in outstanding form and to play alongside him week in week out has been brilliant.

"But as a squad you are going to get tested and people have to do different jobs from time to time. The attitude of our squad is to get in there, roll our sleeves up and do our very best.

"I have actually enjoyed some of it. It's been challenging but I don't see myself as a natural number nine, certainly not.

"Neither does Chris but he's come in and done a great job. I'd say we're both makeshift hookers but we're both happy to continue doing it while we're getting results and while things are moving forward."

Leeds will open up a three-point lead if they repeat their win over the Warriors from earlier this month but Sinfield insists it is too early to take much notice of the table.

"We're happy with where we're at but we're well aware how quickly that can change," Sinfield said. "We've been in this position before and come away with no trophies. We're only in May.

"We've got some long-term injuries that have hindered us - losing Rob, Paul Aiton and Jamie Jones has been tough for us.

"I think it's really tested the depth and given some opportunities to some people they may not have had and they've really stepped up. The challenge is to keep on trying to improve."

Second-placed St Helens will bring down the curtain on the eighth Magic Weekend when they meet Warrington on Sunday evening.

Wakefield and Castleford will kick off day two while in the other derby Huddersfield look for a fifth straight win when they take on Bradford.

PA

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