DARYL POWELL, the head coach of runaway Super League leaders Castleford Tigers, believes Leeds Rhinos will pose an even bigger threat to their title ambitions now Danny McGuire has announced he will leave Headingley at the end of the year.
Castleford, seeking a maiden league title, could move 10 points clear at the top with an 11th straight win against Salford Red Devils tomorrow night.
However, the champions, of course, are decided by a Grand Final after the top-four play-off semi-finals.
Second-placed Leeds remain firmly in the running, then, and Powell feels they will be desperate to send captain McGuire out on a high after the ex- Great Britain stand-off said this would be his 17th and final season in Rhinos colours.
Legendary McGuire, 34, has won seven Super League titles with his hometown team, is the competition’s record try-scorer and debuted when Powell was in charge at Leeds in 2001.
“I worked with him in the under-19s, too, so I understood how good he was going to be,” he said, with Hull KR favourites to recruit him for 2018.
“One of the hardest things I ever had to do was leave him out of the Challenge Cup final side in 2003.
“He’s still got that sharp, crisp pass, which is second to none, and ability to get on the end of things. He’s been an outstanding player for Leeds and Super League. For him, it’s now about getting the right club where he can have the biggest influence, but it looks like him and Leeds are coming back into some form.
“They’re winning games again. They’ve done a great job after what was said earlier in the season when we beat them.
“He’ll be a part of that and I think they’ll use him. I think they’ll use him as motivation as well which, for him, will be great and for the team also. They’ll be very powerful.”
I think they’ll use him as motivation as well which, for him, will be great and for the team also. They’ll be very powerful.Daryl Powell, on Danny McGuire and Leeds Rhinos
Prop Larne Patrick has had tests for a medical issue and will have more today so he is missing against Salford. Adam Milner (ankle) is out for up to six weeks and Jake Webster (ribs) is absent.
Meanwhile, Powell revealed Castleford hooker Paul McShane is related to Evan Hawksworth, the 14-year-old who tragically died on Tuesday having suffered a head injury while playing for Stanley Rangers.
“It’s devastating for such a young person to lose their life playing the game he would have loved so much,” he said.
“It’s a real tough one and so sad; Paul McShane is his cousin so there’s a connection there and we’ve already offered as much support as we can from the club.”