The main rugby league story of this week is, of course, St Helens parting company with their Australian coach, Royce Simmons.
However, before commenting on that story in full I feel I ought to address Kevin Sinfield’s historic achievement of becoming Leeds’ all-time record points scorer during the Rhinos’ 56-16 mauling of Salford last weekend.
Regular readers of this column will already know of my admiration for Sinfield as a rugby player and a leader of men.
He is the consummate professional, metronomically consistent in his all-round game, and in possession of nerves so steely that he could give Clark Kent a run for his money.
Indeed, I sometimes wonder if under his Rhinos jersey he doesn’t sport a large red ‘S’ and wears a cape, just in case.
Sinfield scored a try and kicked eight goals to surpass Lewis Jones’ previous record of 2,920 points, but in his typically understated fashion deflected any individual accolades heaped upon him towards the efforts of his team-mates, saying: “We’re a team sport, and I’m just the lucky one who gets to kick the ball over the posts.”
Those who know how hard Sinfield continues to work at his goal-kicking and understand his ability to distance himself from the pressures of match-winning goal kicks in huge games will know that luck has played no part in his monumental achievement.
His record-breaking feat has gained world-wide acclaim, even seeing him trend on Twitter, where many of his Stobart Super League peers publically congratulated him, and hundreds of fans whimsically called for him to be knighted.
It may be a little early for that just yet, but HRH and her advisors could do an awful lot worse than actually heed those calls.
In a time where so many of the country’s top sports stars ostensibly spend more time in the tabloids than on the field of play, Sinfield stands out as beacon of decency and integrity, while promoting the often forgotten virtues of hard work and selflessness, and all while continuing to excel in one of the toughest sports on the planet.
So why not? Arise, Sir Kevin Sinfield.
Now to the untimely departure of Saints’ head coach Simmons.
The decision to terminate Simmons’ contract was taken by Saints chairman Eamonn McManus in the wake of the club’s worst start to a season in 23 years, which currently sees them on a four-match losing streak.
“We’ve had a difficult start,” said McManus. “And it’s best to make changes sooner rather than later.”
With upcoming games against Leeds, Warrington and Wigan, McManus perhaps feared the worst and has decided to act swiftly. He has acted in what he believes to be the best interests of the club, despite Simmons taking Saints to a Grand Final appearance last season – a mere six months ago.
Thankfully, coaching casualties this early into a season are a rarity in our game.
However, I cannot help but think back to last season and the late-season resurgence undertaken by eventual Grand Final winners, Leeds Rhinos, who stuttered massively in the early part of the season. Their chairman, Gary Hetherington was staunchly supportive of his coach Brian McDermott in the face of some strong criticism from both fans and the media, but his loyalty and patience were rewarded with the ultimate prize.
Perhaps other chairmen could learn from Hetherington’s approach in future seasons.
Finally, and sadly, this week, the game mourns the passing of Mick Shaw, the former Leeds Rhinos, Halifax and Rochdale Hornets player, who tragically died at the tender age of just 36 years old. My sincerest condolences are with his family and friends.