PAUL SYKES believes he still has plenty to give to Dewsbury Rams as he looks ahead to his 22nd season of professional rugby.
The evergreen half-back is still going strong at the age of 38, continuing at his hometown club a stellar career which has taken in Bradford, London, Wakefield and Featherstone, along with England and Great Britain caps.
The 2020 season will be his fifth at the Rams, although the veteran skipper admitted that he wasn’t always so sure that a career which began in 1999 would stretch into a fourth decade.
“When you get to my age there are always doubts in your mind, is it going to be time or whatever,” said Sykes.
“But with the way that I played last year, I thought I played well enough to carry on another year, so I think that’s what will happen this year (as well). If I’m playing well and I’m enjoying my rugby, why not carry on another year?”
Sykes added that he believes it is his “passion for the game” that has kept him going for so long: “It’s something that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid and I’ve always said that as long as I feel good I’ll carry on playing. My body is in decent shape at the moment and I’m really looking forward to this year.”
This campaign sees him take on a new coaching role at the club alongside Lee Greenwood and assistant boss Jack Howieson.
He said: “At the moment in the off-season I’ve just been focusing on getting fit, and I’ve been doing little bits like skills sessions with the lads and all the lads have been great, they’ve taken everything on board.
“I hope they see me as a senior player as well as a coach but I’m looking forward to a different role as well, delving into that coaching side, because maybe I’ll choose that path when I finish playing.”
As club captain and the most experienced man in the Dewsbury dressing room he has been a leader in the group for some time, and will continue to do so both on and off the field alongside half-back partner Liam Finn.
“We’ve trained all off-season in the halves and we just need to try and guide the team as best we can,” said Sykes. “We’re both quite experienced and there’s a mixture of youth and experience in the team, so it should put us in good stead for the season.”
The pair will also look to help young half Morgan Punchard develop his game after making the move from Featherstone. Sykes said of the 20-year-old: “He’s done well in training. He’s only young and he’s a bit quiet so it’s up to me and Finny to bring that out of him. He’ll be a good player.”