Kevin Sinfield looks like he could be the latest league convert to become a cross-code success, and dual code international John Bentley believes he will do just that after joining Yorkshire Carnegie earlier this season.
Ex-British and Irish Lion Bentley also switched codes in 1988, making his way to play rugby league, however in 1995 he returned to union as the professional era kicked off.
Bentley believes that former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield will begin to make a name for himself at his new club but understands it takes time for rugby league converts to adapt to the differing code.
“I think Kevin will have a positive impact on Yorkshire Carnegie and his ability to control a game, even though he has come across from rugby league, is impressive,” Bentley told The Rugby Paper.
“The key ingredient for all cross code converts is dealing with the contact area. Rugby league is extremely fast and confrontational but when you get tackled the game stops momentarily and restarts very quickly whereas in rugby union when you get tackled the game actually commences.”
Sinfield will feel as though he’s heavily under the microscope being a rugby league convert following the departure of Sam Burgess from Bath earlier this season.
However, whilst Burgess was subject to positional changes throughout his short tenure in union, Sinfield has begun plying his trade as a fly-half and looks as though he’ll stay there after playing 80 minutes against Munster A.
Bentley also discussed the challenges this position may bring to Sinfield:
“Fly-half is pivotal to everything that happens in the team and it is not an easy position to play. He has the defender in front of him but also a no. 7 whose primary role is to get to him and destroy him and Kevin will have to deal with that.”
Sinfield was also recently announced in the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year after taking Leeds Rhinos to an unprecedented treble throughout 2015 before making his switch to union.
This has made him the only player from rugby league to have ever been nominated for the distinguished award.
Luke Beasley, Pundit Arena