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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Kevin Sinfield column

Leeds Rhinos captain

It's hard being stuck on the sidelines, especially when you're not used to being injured.

My thumb is healing nicely after last week's operation but I've still got another four weeks to go before I'll be back playing.

That's the best-case scenario - and there's no reason to be anything other than optimistic right now.

I'm in constant touch with my surgeon, Doug Campbell, and he is happy with my progress.

It's important to stay involved... if the coach decides to introduce new moves or calls, then it's vital I'm up to speed when I finally resume playing

He's one of the best in the business. He's looked after David Beckham, so I'm in safe hands.

When my thumb was first operated on, I had a cast which went right up to my elbow. It limited what I could and could not do.

But in the last few days I've been fitted with a smaller, more lightweight cast made of fibreglass.

I've still got to be careful I don't knock the thumb accidentally but I've been able to do a lot more. I've even done a few upper body weights in the gym this week.

I've still been part of things here at Leeds despite being injured. I can't play in the matches but I still attend the team meetings to find out what's going on.

It's important to stay involved. If the coach decides to introduce new moves or calls, then it's vital I'm up to speed when I finally resume playing.

I've been lucky when it comes to injuries. I've missed only the odd game here and there in the past, so this is a new experience for me.

Barrie McDermott
Barrie McDermott has been a good pal and loyal servant to Leeds
And a frustrating one. I'm sure I've been a pain in the backside at home.

People are wondering how Leeds will fare without their skipper. I think they'll do great. Leeds are a team full of leaders.

Keith Senior has taken over the captaincy and will do a good job, but Willie Poching, Andrew Dunemann, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and Ali Lauitiiti are not afraid of speaking out either.

In fact, I could name every single player in the team. They all contribute in their own way.

Since my last column on the BBC Sport website, Barrie McDermott has announced he will finish playing at the end of the season.

Barrie's like a big brother to me, so we chatted a lot before he made his decision.

He could have carried on playing well into his thirties if he wanted to, but he decided to bow out at the top - and I admire him for that.

He'll be missed on the pitch and life will be different without him, but we'll still see him around Headingley in his capacity on the coaching staff.


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