Danny McGuire: Game’s top teams are well-matched

Sean Long
Sean Long
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I think the top teams in Super League are going to have to get used to losing a bit more often.

The days when sides could go through the season and only be beaten a couple of times, like we were in 2004, have probably gone.

At Leeds we would like to win every week and that’s how we approach each game. I am sure all the other teams are the same, but realistically the competition is too tough now for that to happen.

I think this is going to be an exciting year and potentially a tighter season, with the top sides not winning as many games as they have in the past. To me it looks a bit more even across the board and I think it will be close at the top and the bottom of the table.

That is what we have been striving for over the years. In the past there’s always been probably four teams who could potentially win the competition, but now maybe eight or nine will fancy their chances.

Salford are spending a bit of money and looking pretty strong, Hull KR have recruited well and Hull FC and Catalan Dragons will be tough again, so that adds a few more teams to the mix.

It is going to be interesting because I think the sport has been on a bit of a high since the World Cup, with the news of the new First Utility sponsorship, the Sky TV deal and the restructing of the leagues.

Relegation will add a bit of something different to the competition this season, with the bottom two teams going down. Nobody wants to be involved in that battle and everybody has their own opinion on relegation and the good or harm it does.

I am on the fence, I do like the excitement it brings, but I can understand the damage relegation can do to a club financially and the harm it has on people’s livelihoods.

I think it will probably mean more matches with something riding on them and the bottom teams are going to be fighting for their lives all year, so there won’t be any easy games – if there were in the past.

At the top of the table, I was impressed with Huddersfield against Wigan last week. They looked very strong and like a team who have been together for a few years and understand each other.

Don’t write Wigan off, they have lost some key players, but they have got some really good youngsters coming through and, last week, they maybe had their minds on the World Club Challenge.

Warrington are always a threat and I expect them to be up around the top of the table again, along with St Helens and ourselves, who have both recruited well.

Since Sean Long moved on Saints haven’t really had a settled half-back combination, but from what I’ve heard Luke Walsh is a good player and he will add a bit of stability to them, playing behind a big, strong pack. As for the Rhinos, we’re happy with the squad we’ve got and I think the signings we’ve made are very strong.

Tom Briscoe is a world-class winger and will add competition for places, while Paul Aiton is a really strong tackler, who is outstanding at dummy-half.

The picture is looking rosy and I am excited to get started.

Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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