Danny McGuire Column: We need the likes of former Leeds Rhino Iestyn Harris in our game

Iestyn Harris
Iestyn Harris
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IESTYN HARRIS is somebody I have got a lot of time for.

Iestyn was the main man at Leeds when I was coming through the academy and I played with him in 2001, which was my first year in the full-time squad.

When I made my debut –against Salford, ironically – I came on to replace Iestyn and he was a player I always looked up to and admired.

I think people forget just how good he was for Leeds. He was the best player in the competition for a few years and he was Man of Steel in 1998.

We haven’t had a Man of Steel at Leeds since and considering Wigan, Saints and Bradford were so dominant at the time, it was a fantastic accolade.

I don’t know the details of what has gone on at Salford, but it sounds like Iestyn isn’t going to be there much longer.

Who Salford have as coach is up to them, but I hope he bounces back quickly, because we can’t afford to lose people like Iestyn from our game.

That said, Salford have got Tim Sheens in as director of rugby now and that is a huge coup.

He’s the current Australia coach and to have somebody of his calibre and experience in Super League can only be good for the competition.

They are playing well at the moment and it is going to be a tough game tonight. It is massive for them because they need to win to have any chance of getting into the top-eight.

They’ve won their last two and played well, especially in the second half last week, so we have got a job on our hands.

Salford will probably admit they have under-performed this year, but they’ve got some players back recently and they beat Wigan earlier in the season, so they will feel they can beat anybody when they get their act together.

We need to win as well, because we haven’t got any room for error now if we’re going to go into the Super-8s as league leaders.

I am writing this before last night’s game between Warrington and Saints, but we know we need to win our last two league games. That means it is going to be two hungry teams, desperate for a win.

Even though we didn’t win last week, I think we are in good shape. The first half let us down at Wigan, but we played quite well after the break and we are starting to get a few players back now.

Tom Briscoe and Jamie Jones-Buchanan are back in training, though they aren’t quite ready for tonight, Zak Hardaker is available after his ban and Stevie Ward’s recovering really well from his ankle injury and hopefully he won’t be out for much longer.

Mitch Achurch and Liam Sutcliffe are out long-term, but apart from those two everybody is available or not far off.

That’s good news, because we haven’t been in that situation for a while. It adds more intensity to training when competition for places is always good.

There’s going to be a few selection headaches for Brian Mac and that’s what he’d want at this stage of the year.

Mac has been open and said he will bring Tom back when he’s ready, which will mean Ash Handley stepping down.

Tom is a world class winger, but he’ll need a couple of games to find his feet after so long out and the more matches he plays before the Super-8s, the better.

But I want to say well done to Ash Handley for the way he has played over the last four months.

He wasn’t expecting a call-up, but he has been brilliant. He has more than held his own and he looks like a genuine Super League player now, which is fantastic considering he is only 19 and he hadn’t even made his debut a year ago.

He can take a lot of confidence out of how he’s done and I am sure Mac will have no hesitation in giving him a call if Tom or Ryan Hall get an injury or aren’t playing well.

He is quick, he has good footwork and he knows how to finish. He’s also big and strong.

There’s a lot of athletic, powerful wingers in Super League at the moment and that’s great for the competition and can only add to the entertainment.

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IT WAS tonight’s opponents Salford’s loss and our gain when Joel Moon joined us at the end of 2012.

Moony is one of the best centres in the competition and he proves that with his performances week-in and week-out.

Today it’s his turn to reveal a bit more about what makes him tick as he answers my 10 questions.

If you’ve got any questions for Rhinos players, email me via Peterj.Smith@jpress.co.uk or you can contact me on Twitter.

1: What’s your favourite food?
Curry.

2: Favourite holiday destination?
Thailand.

3: Dream car?
Range Rover.

4: Favourite away ground?
KC Stadium.

5: Toughest opponent?
St Helens.

6: Best rugby league moment?
Our Challenge Cup win over Castleford last year.

7: Favourite joke:
A blind man walks into a bar...And a chair. And a table!

8: Wembley or Old Trafford?
Wembley.

9: Do you have any superstitions?
Yes, I always wear my socks rolled down.

10: Funniest team-mate?
Rob Burrow.

Tom Briscoe.

Five talking points from Leeds Rhinos’ victory over St Helens