HANLEY: SINFIELD IS PURE CLASS

Rugby league legend Ellery Hanley today hailed Leeds Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield as "just about the ultimate professional".

Rugby league legend Ellery Hanley today hailed Leeds Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield as "just about the ultimate professional". Leeds-born Hanley, recently voted Great Britain’s greatest-ever player, said Sinfield reminds him of himself – but has more skill. The new Doncaster coach – who played for Leeds from 1991-95 – was speaking in the build-up to Sinfield’s testimonial game, against Oldham at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday, kick off 3pm. "I would say he is probably just about the ultimate professional," Hanley told the Yorkshire Evening Post. "I rate him very highly as a professional sportsman, the way he conducts himself on and off the field is immaculate. "He reminds me of myself to some degree. He looks after himself magnificently well. He took on the leadership at Leeds Rhinos at a young age and he has coped with it magnificently. "What I admire about him is that he has had some adversity, but he has gone on and learned from those particular mistakes." Of Sinfield’s playing ability, Hanley said: "He is right up there. You could not question his ability at all. "You would have to say he is right up there with the best of the players in this competition, no question about that. "He leads by example and doesn’t take a backwards step. "What he does – and people probably don’t realise this – is he is an inspiration to the players who play around him and also to the junior players coming through at Leeds. "So many players talk about ‘I want to be like Kevin Sinfield’. He looks after himself, he plays the game hard and he plays it clean and he is very smart. "He is a much more skilful player than I was. To have the ability to kick goals, kick out of hand and to organise is magnificent. I have to say he is just about the complete player. "He can pass both ways, left and right, and he defends as well as anybody." Sinfield is the fourth Rhinos player in as many years to be granted a testimonial, following Francis Cummins, Barrie McDermott and Keith Senior. Hanley reckons the honour is well merited. "He deserves a testimonial and all the rewards from that, said the former Great Britain and St Helens coach. "People use the term legend to describe a player too often sometimes, about players who fall into the bracket of being very good. "Kevin is up there with the legendary names, because of his professionalism. "People think it’s just about what you do on the field. That should be the case in most cases, but I look at Kevin as being the whole complete player and how he conducts himself stands out like a sore thumb."