PAUL SYKES will see his glittering career honoured on Sunday when he leads hometown side Dewsbury Rams out in his testimonial game against the club where he started his career 19 years ago, Bradford Bulls.
The 36-year-old former Thornhill junior has played more than 400 games in a professional career in which he represented England five times and earned a cap for Great Britain.
Sykes admits he will be nervous ahead of Sunday’s game but is looking forward to the occasion, which will kick-start 12 months of activities to celebrate his career.
Sykes said: “I’m a bit nervous as its a special occasion for me especially against Bradford, who were my first professional club.
“I asked Bradford for the game and I am grateful they’ve agreed to do it.
“It should be a good game and I hope a lot of people turn out. Bradford have agreed to play a strong side and we will have a strong side out as we are just two weeks away from the first game and this is our final pre-season game.”
Although in the twilight of his career, Sykes admits he has no intentions of hanging up his boots just yet and is relishing another season with the Rams.
He added: “I think I will always have the buzz and as long as my body is feeling ok, I will continue playing.
“The big one (of my career) was playing for England and Great Britain and that is what every kid dreams of when they start out.
“I also had a really good time at London. I went there as an 18-year-old and spent seven years there and grew up there.
“I made a lot of friends for life and I have fond memories of my time there.”
With the new Betfred Championship season just a fortnight away, Sykes knows the importance of Dewsbury making a positive start when they kick off against Sheffield Eagles on Friday February 2.
Sykes said: “I have said a few times that this league gets tougher and tougher and there are some good sides in the Championship.
“Hopefully we can start the season with a few big wins and build some momentum.”
Sykes’s half-back partner Gareth Moore missed last week’s pre-season friendly at Huddersfield Giants through illness but is hopeful of being available to face Bradford.
Further news of other Sykes testimonial events will be posted on Facebook and Twitter at @syko_sykes.