Kevin Sinfield: Leeds Rhinos captain rejects Aussie criticism

Kevin Sinfield

Kevin Sinfield has dismissed criticism from Australia after winning the 2012 Golden Boot, the award for the best rugby league player in the world.

The Aussie media widely reported Sinfield capturing the prestigious prize as a snub to their players.

"If people are not happy about it, it is not my problem. Everyone is entitled to their opinion," he told BBC Sport.

The Leeds Rhinos captain beat off competition from four NRL players and Wigan's Man of Steel Sam Tomkins.

Sinfield, 32, became only the fourth Englishman to win the accolade after Ellery Hanley (1988), Garry Schofield (1990) and Andy Farrell (2004).

He had a superb 2012 with his club, leading the Rhinos to World Club Challenge glory against Australian champions Manly Sea Eagles, before collecting a sixth Super League title in nine years, securing the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match in the Old Trafford Grand Final.

And he took the Rhinos to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley where they lost to Warrington.

Despite the achievements, news sources Down Under felt Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith and Dally M medallist - NRL's equivalent of the Man of Steel - Ben Barba were better suited for recognition.

But Oldham-born Sinfield brushed off the comments preferring to concentrate on his own triumphs.

"I remember when Andy Farrell won it in 2004, there was a similar response from them," he said. "I cannot do anything about that, I didn't pick the award, I didn't vote for it, but for me it is an honour to win.

"The Australians probably think the NRL competition is far superior to Super League. Whether they rate me or not I am not sure, but with a lot of the Australians they rate themselves very highly. There is nothing I can do about that.

"I am not bothered or interested in what they say, if they want to have a crack then they can fire away."

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Leeds on 'incredible' Grand Final

Sinfield - who last year celebrated 10 years as Leeds captain - also succeeded on the international scene, skippering England to victory against France and Wales in the Autumn International Series.

Even though he experienced a wonderful 12 months, he was surprised with the award, and thought international team-mate Tomkins was in a better position to win it instead.

"There is always a difference in opinion in who should win something like this and personally I thought Sam would have won the award," said Sinfield.

"He has been outstanding all year, is the current Man of Steel and it was a pleasure to play alongside him."

In spite of his bulging trophy cabinet, Sinfield has yet to win the Challenge Cup, a competition he has come runner-up in five times.

And although he has never won the Man of Steel award, Sinfield says he would rather lift trophies with club and country.

"It is great to win the Golden Boot but I would swap it for an England World Cup win or another Grand Final win every day of the week," he explained.

"The team awards far outweigh the individual ones, it is really nice to win it but there are bigger prizes for teams at stake."