Kevin Sinfield: "When Bill told me he had prostate cancer I was in deep shock"
The former rugby league international and Leeds Rhinos hero is walking day nine of Jeff Stelling's March for Men after watching his Sky Sports colleague Bill Arthur battle with the most common cancer in men. He tells us about how the whole rugby league family is now rallying for the cause, and the infamous night when he led a lost and exhausted Jeff and his fellow marchers through the streets of Leeds last year.
Kevin Sinfield has enjoyed some unforgettable nights in Leeds.
The former Great Britain and Leeds Rhinos skipper is widely viewed as one of the greatest rugby league players of the modern era, and ended a trophy-laden career at the Headingley-based club in October 2015 by winning the domestic triple.
Famed for his leadership qualities and the epitome of a team player, the 36-year-old used those qualities to full effect during another eventful evening in the city in March last year.
The infamous ‘Lost in Leeds’ incident
He wasn’t kitted out in club colours this time, but wore a Prostate Cancer UK pin-badge as he took control of an ailing ruck of March for Men walkers on the final leg of their journey to Elland Road.
In what has become affectionately known as ‘Lost in Leeds’, Kevin was a part of the welcoming committee at SkyBet HQ, where a weary Jeff Stelling received a cheque after an unplanned detour took him and his fellow marchers several more miles than planned.
“I felt for everyone when they turned up,” remembers Kevin. “They looked tired and shell-shocked having walked an extra three or four miles.
“Then they set off out the building and went the wrong way again!”
Leaping into action, Kevin then plotted a route to the finishing line at the home of Leeds United FC and led the exhausted contingent through the Yorkshire darkness.
Kevin’s hometown nous in Oldham
Kevin will once again be on familiar territory when Jeff Stelling’s March for Men this year heads to his hometown of Oldham on Friday 9 June.
Born and bred there, Sinfield’s local knowledge should serve the day eight walkers well on what’s set to be the hilliest and most off-road day of the March.
“I think they will be relying on me again, but I’m as bad in Oldham as I am in Leeds,” he jokes.
“But it will be great to get involved again. What Jeff’s done has been amazing. To raise money and awareness through both walks has been brilliant.”
Walking and running for men like Bill
Although he may not walk all the way to Accrington Stanley on the day, Kevin has certainly already gone the distance for Prostate Cancer UK this year after completing his debut London Marathon for us in fine fashion in April.
Clocking in at 3:30.53, he finished just behind close pal Chris Stephenson [pictured together below] and the pair raised more than £4,600 to fight back against a disease close to his heart.
Kevin’s Sky Sports colleague and rugby league reporter Bill Arthur was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, and Eddie Hemmings – another long-time anchor and commentator on the channel – has also been affected by the disease.
“As soon as you hear that C-word, you think the worst,” says Kevin. “That’s the stigma that is attached to cancer, and when Bill told me I was in deep shock.
“What struck me, though, was how positive he was about it. The support he’d had was fantastic, not only from hospitals and doctors but a whole range of different people – his family especially.
“His positivity was brilliant. You go through so many different things in your life and something like that puts everything into perspective.”
Rugby league family marching together
Both Bill and Eddie have worked closely with Prostate Cancer UK, helping raise awareness among the rugby league family. And former rugby league pros Phil Clark, Barrie McDermott and Brian Carney will be joining Bill, Kevin and Jeff on the March from Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park.
“Rugby League is a caring sport and it’s a family sport: we look after each other,” says Kevin.
“To be able to help promote something that could save lives and could save a lot of heartache for people is something we’re looking to get behind.”