Danny McGuire: All games will count under new structure

Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield lifts the Super League trophy
Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield lifts the Super League trophy
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AS A player you get into a mindset of dealing with whatever is put in front of you.

Other people decide on things like the structure of the competition and then we just get on with it once everything’s agreed.

Things like Magic Weekend, Club Call and so on tend to get imposed upon us and there’s not much point spending a lot of time stressing about it.

It is a case of crossing various bridges when you come to them and that’s how I – and I should imagine most players – will deal with the new format when it comes in next year.

The three-eights system is a big change and while I haven’t looked at the implication in any massive depth, I can see some obvious benefits.

Once you get a grasp of it, it’s a pretty simple system to understand, though looking at it from afar it does seem quite complicated.

In rugby league we are never afraid to try something new and different, maybe too much sometimes, but I think the new structure will make every game matter a bit more than some of them do at the moment. It should be pretty similar to now in that every team will be fighting for a place in the top-eight. But the fact points are carried over from the first 23 rounds and teams in the top-four at that stage get an extra home game in the Super 8s should mean everyone is striving to finish as high up the table as possible.

We’ve been accused in past seasons of not caring where we finish as long as we qualify for the play-offs and I’ve heard people say it’s better to come fifth than fourth for example.

That won’t be the case next year and from that point of view I think it is a good format and a positive change.

I don’t think it will change how we approach things as a team though. We go into every game to win, despite what some people might say and we’ve made no secret of the fact we want to finish top of the table this year. But there is going to be more incentive from next season and there should be a fantastic battle to get into the top-four.

I think the first year of the new format will be a bit of a leap into the dark for all teams and a feeling-out process, just to see how it goes. It will take a while for everyone to get used to it and I imagine it will probably really take off in the second year, when everyone understands what needs to be done to be successful.

In my opinion the top-eight play-offs, which we have at the moment, haven’t really worked – even though we’ve won the Grand Final three times under that system.

I was always a big fan of top-five or top-six and it will be more like that next year, once the Super 8s begin.

From next year there is only one round of play-offs to get to Old Trafford: First versus fourth and second versus third on the Super 8s table, so everybody will be fighting tooth and nail to get into one of those positions.

That will mean there are no gimme games and no matches that don’t mean anything, which is maybe the case now.

It is an interesting change and I don’t think it is going to please everyone, but it is going to happen and I think the best thing now is for everyone to get behind it and make sure it becomes a success.

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I AM not a fan of bonus points. Maybe I should be, because under the system they have in the Championship – where you get a point for losing by 12 points or less – we would be top of the table!

But I hope that doesn’t come in next year, when the new format is introduced. I know the powers that be are looking into it, but I just can’t see the benefit.

I understand the idea. It has been brought into the Championship to try and make sure teams play for the full 80 and they don’t give in when they are, say, 20 points down with 20 minutes to go.

But as far as I am concerned, if you are a professional player in the elite competition you should never run up the white flag anyway. You should always give your best and play to the top of your ability from the start of a match to the finish, whatever the situation on the scoreboard. It is all about personal and professional pride and going out and doing what you are paid to do. Bringing in a bonus point system shouldn’t affect that.

We seem to have been involved in an incredible number of close games this year and I don’t think that would change if there was an extra point on offer for the losing team.

Sometimes we have come out on top, like we did at Salford last week, and on other occasions, such as Wakefield away, it has gone against us. I hate losing and so do the rest of the team and I don’t imagine we would feel any better in the changing rooms after a defeat, just because we’d picked up a point from it.

At Leeds – and I am sure it’s the same at all clubs –we want to do well for the fans, for our teammates and for ourselves.

If we are getting well-beaten the incentive to dig in and try and claw our way back into the game comes from the fact we are professional, we care about what we do and we don’t want to let people down.

I wouldn’t want to see teams who are losing by 13 points kicking drop goals or penalties to get within bonus point range.

I would rather see them trying to score tries, which is what happens in those circumstances at the moment. Another thing is, in my eyes, a losing bonus point rewards failure. You go out to win and that is what you should get points for.

In rugby union they have bonus points for good attack - scoring so many tries – as well as for losing by seven or less.

I am not sure our system encourages the right attitude, because there’s no incentive for good attack – it just rewards mediocrity.

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BRADFORD’S WIN over Wigan last week was one of the results of the season.

It shows, even though they are going to be relegated, they are still committed to what they are doing. I was really pleased for Jimmy Lowes, pictured, because it took some guts to take the job there. He has put everything on the line, when he could have stayed in a fairly safe and secure job at Leeds Carnegie.

He cares and I really hope it works out for him, though as I wrote a few weeks ago, I was disappointed when Francis Cummins was sacked.

We know we are in for a tough game this week and it is going to be a strange feeling, knowing this will be the last derby against Bulls for at least a year. They will want to finish on a high and beating us would give them a massive boost. But we have got just as much reason to play well and get a good result.

We want to finish top of the table and it’s important we keep winning. We had a tough game at Salford last week and we need to build on that and make sure we take some form into next weekend’s Cup semi-final.

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