Rugby League

Kevin Sinfield, centre, captained Leeds to the treble in 2015.

Kevin Sinfield honoured to be nominated for SPOTY

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Former Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield says he owes everything to rugby league and hopes to help get the sport the "attention it deserves" after being nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 35-year-old enjoyed a dream ending to his rugby league career in October when he led the Rhinos to a Grand Final victory over Wigan which completed the first treble in the club's history.

The achievement cemented Sinfield's status as Leeds' most successful captain and earned him a place on the shortlist for the BBC accolade, a first for any rugby league player since its inception in 1954.

The Rhinos, who are up for Team of the Year, and Super League have both produced videos pushing Sinfield's claims for the main award, while the campaign is gaining momentum on social media through the 'Kev4SPOTY' accounts.

"It's a huge, huge honour and really humbling to be included with the personalties on that list," he told Press Association Sport.

"I owe everything in my life to rugby league and especially the Rhinos so to be the first to be nominated is brilliant and something I'm very proud of.

"It's great to get a chance to represent rugby league and try to get it the recognition it fully deserves.

"I've seen both videos and I think it's really nice. They're absolutely first class.

"I'm very proud of what we've been able to achieve this year at the Rhinos and I'm very fortunate that I've got so much support around me and so many people who care about our sport.

"I think what we've found with rugby league is it has always got behind and looked after its own, whether that's in good or bad times.

"It's a really special sport and people from rugby league stick together. I think they appreciate that it's really important to spread the word and to try to give our game the spotlight and attention it deserves and has probably craved for a long, long time.

"I just think over the last few years in particular the amount of attention rugby league has got on the show has probably been about 15 seconds each year.

"Hopefully with myself being nominated and Leeds being up for Team of the Year we'll get a bit more airtime just to showcase what our sport is about because it's a fantastic family sport.

"There's a lot of honesty and some great values that our sport produces. It's nice to be right at the heart of that and I'm really looking forward to the night."

Sinfield, who is now playing rugby union for Yorkshire Carnegie, admitted he still has to pinch himself after Leeds' domestic clean sweep of trophies - Super League, Challenge Cup and the League Leaders' Shield.

"No it hasn't sunk in at all and is still a bit surreal," said the former England skipper, who became only the fourth rugby league player to pass 4,000 career points in 2015.

"With finishing in rugby league and moving on to the next challenge, it's given me a little bit of time to reflect, look back and enjoy some of the memories from over the years.

"What the team achieved this year was absolutely remarkable. We'd never done it before and it's very rare in rugby league that a team will do the treble.

"It was an absolute fairytale ending and it will be great on the night to share that with the rest of the lads and be together one last time.

"It's fair to say it's the best team I've played in."

Meanwhile, Sinfield has had his say on fellow nominee Tyson Fury, who has caused outrage with his comments about the role of women and homosexuality.

"He's expressed his views and I don't agree with them, but they're his own opinions," Sinfield said.

"But if anything this will allow people to talk about what is and isn't acceptable to say and what we expect from our sporting personalties and role models.

"The most deciding factor is the British public, who have the chance to have their say through votes on the night. We'll get to see whether those opinions stand up."

:: Kevin Sinfield is nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015. Live from Belfast on BBC One, 18.50pm, Sunday, December 20.

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