McGuire eyes rewards for fine form
Leeds Rhinos’ international stand-off Danny McGuire is hoping his late-season burst of form can help him reap rewards for both club and country.
The 28-year-old missed the first three months of the season while recovering from major knee surgery but is doing his best to make up for lost time.
He has played in all but one of the Rhinos’ last 17 matches, scoring nine tries, including his 200th for the club in last Sunday’s 42-10 Engage Super League play-off win over Hull FC, and cannot wait for tonight’s preliminary semi-final against Huddersfield Giants.
“To be only the fifth person to get up to 200 tries is obviously a big achievement and to be up there among some of the biggest names in Leeds’ history makes me really proud,” he said.
“The last month or so has probably been the best I’ve felt. When I first got back, I struggled to get into games but I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks.
“The season is coming to the end but it only feels like it’s halfway through to me and hopefully I will have an advantage over everybody else.”
McGuire has not played for England for two years but he is still in coach Steve McNamara’s elite training squad and his hoping to feature in the end-of-season Four Nations Series.
“I’d love to be involved again,” he said. “I just want to try and have a big finish to the season.
“There are a lot of half-backs who have been playing consistently well this year and they probably have the edge on me at the minute.
“But this is the best time to start playing well and showing what you are made of and hopefully I can force my way into Steve Mac’s thinking.”
A run all the way to Old Trafford would help McGuire’s cause but Leeds need to get past Huddersfield first in tonight’s sudden-death tie at the Galpharm Stadium.
The Rhinos triumphed 31-24 there in the final match of the regular season only a fortnight ago and were impressive against Hull last Sunday whereas, in sharp contrast, the Giants are licking their wounds from a 47-0 thrashing by Warrington Wolves.
“We’re really happy with where we are at the minute,” said McGuire. “There’s still a lot of stuff we need to work on but at the weekend against Hull we were really strong defensively.
“Huddersfield, on the other hand, will be disappointed with the way they played against Warrington but they’ve got some very dangerous players and we’ll have to be on the ball defensively again.
“I know for a fact that, once you’ve had a bad game, you can’t wait to get back out there and put a few things right.
“I don’t think the game two weeks ago will have much of a bearing on a do-or-die situation.
“I’m sure Huddersfield will be giving everything, as we will be, and it will be about the team that turns up on the day.”