Leeds Rhinos: Aiton’s injury ko is bad news for us – McGuire

Paul Aiton
Paul Aiton
6
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Being out injured is the worst time for any player. We were all gutted for Paul Aiton when he got hurt last week. It’s disappointing at any time, but to do it three weeks before a big game like the Challenge Cup final is heartbreaking.

I know, because I’ve been there. In 2012 I did my knee ligaments in the lead-up to Wembley and missed out on the final, so I can understand what Paulie is going through.

At the time it’s a bit like a kick in the teeth, it’s frustrating and disappointing, but that’s the game. We play a contact sport and injuries happen.

Three years ago I was fortunate enough to recover and get back in time for the Grand Final, which we won, so that made up for the disappointment of missing Wembley.

It’s a real shame Paulie won’t get chance to do the same, after we heard yesterday he will be out for 16 weeks and has played his last game for us.

That’s bad news for us, because he has been a massive part of what we’ve achieved this year so far.

In my opinion he has been the best No 9 in the competition this year for his all-round game, his defence and what he brings to the team.

He has found a bit more confidence this season. Last year he was finding his feet, but he has really improved as a player and he is going to be a big loss.

We will definitely miss him, but Rob Burrow is a great player to step in and we saw last year that Robbie Ward will do a good job if he gets a chance.Hopefully we will get Stevie Ward back against Wigan tonight, but we don’t want any more injuries.

I am sure the coaching staff are keeping their fingers crossed and it does go through your mind at times, but once you get out on the field you forget all about it and just get on with the game.

We have got two crucial games in the Super-8s before we even start thinking about Wembley and the best way to approach them is to go full out.

We are going to go for it and if anybody is unfortunate enough to get hurt, we have got other players who can come in and hopefully do just as good a job.

You do know it’s possible, but we are professional rugby players, we get paid to play the game and that’s what we want to do.

Ask anybody if they’d rather play or have a week or two off and watch from the stands and we’d all want to put our boots on.

We want to do well in all competitions this year and the next two games are just as important as the Cup final, so there’ll be no holding back.

We have had some good tussles with Wigan this year. We beat them at home earlier in the season, but they’ve got the upper hand twice and they’ll be coming to Headingley feeling pretty confident.

It is always a tough, physical game and it’s usually close, whoever comes out on top. If we win we’ll be four points clear, which would put us in a good position, so it’s a huge one for us.

We are in good form at the moment, we’re scoring a lot of tries and I thought our defence last week had some bite to it, against a dangerous team.

There’s always areas to work on and we need to make sure we do that and we keep improving.

Every game from now on is going to be a tough one and that was the idea when the new format came in.

There’s no chance of a down week, you have to be on top of your game every match. The intensity has definitely gone up a notch and there’s been some cracking games so far.

There’s battles going on for fourth spot and top place in the Super-8s and I think there’ll be some upsets in the middle-8s as well, so it’s exciting times.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

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