Danny McGuire: Lower tier teams bear up well in Cup clashes

Paul McShane.
Paul McShane.
0
Have your say

USUALLY WHEN we play on a Saturday I like to get away from rugby on the Sunday afternoon, but I watched the Wakefield versus Leigh game last week.

Leigh are an interesting team, the way they are playing in the Championship and how dominant they are.

I get on well with their half-back Ryan Brierley as well, so I was keen to see how they went, though I’m also good mates with Paul McShane at Wakey, so I was a bit torn over who I wanted to win.

It looks like they will be playing each other in the middle-eights later this year and I thought Leigh really showed their credentials.

They probably started a bit flat and Wakey were on top in the first half, but Leigh’s second-half performance was strong and probably as good as anything I’ve seen this year.

They’ve got a lot of potential and a lot of players who look capable of stepping up to the next level. If they do get promoted they will have to add a bit more quality to maintain the consistency and standard they are playing at at the moment, but you can see they are full of confidence.

They’ve won 25 straight games and I watched the interview with their coach at the end and he said he was always confident they would win, even when they were 24-6 down. He might be telling porkies, but that shows the self-belief they have in their camp and they definitely have a winning culture which could take them a long way.

It was a good weekend for the Championship, with Featherstone and Batley pushing Catalans and Widnes all the way. They are two of the toughest grounds to win on and to get within a few points was a great effort by the lower-division teams.

I know Catalans had a few players out injured, but they still fielded a strong side and it was more or less the same Widnes team that beat us the week before.

There’s a lot of talented players in the Championship and Featherstone and Batley proved some players in their division could do well at the higher level, especially if they had full-time training.

I should imagine the way they played last weekend will give them confidence for the rest of the season so it should be a good run-in and after last weekend’s results, the middle-eights are going to be really interesting.

I don’t often get to watch rugby league on TV, but I thought the BBC coverage last Sunday was very good.

Wiring Jamie Peacock for sound in our game against Huddersfield worked really well. He told us a couple of days before the match he would be wearing a microphone during the game and to be honest, I think he was a bit nervous about it.

The language out on the field can get a bit colourful at times, but the BBC did a really good job editing the footage they showed on Sunday afternoon.

I was talking to JP about it the other day and it has definitely caused a lot of interest. The thing everybody is talking about is the sound of the impact in tackles.

As players we tend to take it in our stride, but I think it has given the viewers a new appreciation of what happens on the field and how tough our game is. People have also told me they enjoyed getting an insight into the sort of chatter that happens during a match. We all knew about the microphone, but once the game kicked off it was forgotten and it was business as usual.

A few people have asked me what Ryan Hall was doing for JP to call him a “big melon”. Knowing Hally, it could have been just about anything! I think that was probably one occasion when JP was minding his language and he might have used another expression if he hadn’t been mic’d up.

Speaking of unusual insights, the viewing public saw a lot more of Rob Burrow than they expected when the camera focused in on him in our changing room on Saturday.

Rob’s not the slightest bit bothered about being exposed to the nation, in fact I think he’s quite proud. Nothing really fazes Rob, but we’ve all had a good laugh about it.

Zak Hardaker took a picture off the TV, did about 50 copies and plastered them all over the place at our Kirkstall training base, so we’ve all been seeing plenty of Rob this week.

****

For something a bit different, I thought I’d give you an insight into the character of some of the Rhinos players with my 10 questions survey.

The first one in the hot seat is hooker Paulie Aiton.

If you have any questions you’d like me to put to players over the next few weeks, email me via peterj.smith@jpress.co.uk

1: What’s your favourite food?

Lamb chops.

2: Favourite holiday destination?

France.

3: Dream car?

Any old classics.

4: Favourite away ground?

It was Headingley when I was with Wakefield.

5: Toughest opponent?

James Roby.

6: Best rugby league moment?

Winning the Challenge Cup in 2014.

7: Old Trafford or Wembley?

I’ve only been to Wembley.

8: Favourite sport?

I don’t really watch sport, but – apart from rugby league – I don’t mind watching ice hockey.

9: TV programme?

I don’t watch TV.

10: Funniest team-mate at Rhinos?

Rob Burrow.

Rob Burrow, pictured during his 500th career appearance with a specially numbered jersey in the game at St Helens in February this year. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Bowing out: Leeds Rhinos veteran Rob Burrow to retire at the end of the season