Leeds Rhinos: Grand Final winner’s ring is the big prize – McGuire

Jamie Peacock.
Jamie Peacock.
1
Have your say

Congratulations to all the players who were named in the Super League Dream Team this week, especially the Leeds boys.

It is great for us to have so many in. Looking at Twitter, us having five players in the team seems to have caused a bit of a storm, but I think they all deserved to be selected.

Obviously I am a little bit biased. I see our boys in training every day and matches each weekend and I know how good they are.

Everybody has an opinion. The majority of fans see their team every week and think more of their players should be in, but it is tough to put together a team that everybody agrees with.

If you asked 100 people, they’d probably all have a different line-up, but looking at the team that was announced on Monday, I don’t think there can really be too many complaints. Our five lads – Zak, Kallum, Hally, JP and Abbo – have all had great seasons and it is an unbelievable achievement for JP to be in there for the 10th year.

I’ve been in the Dream Team two or three times and, being honest, accolades like that don’t mean an awful lot. I am sure the boys who were included this week would all swap their Dream Team kit for a place in the Grand Final and a winner’s ring.

It is nice and it’s always good to get recognition for what you do, in any walk of life. But individual honours and awards are probably something you look back on at the end of your career.

Especially in our environment, it is all about the team and playing well and doing your job for the lads around you. Getting a win this weekend is a lot more important than being in the Dream Team. Having said that, it is a great honour for each and every one of them to be in there.

We also had our club awards night on Monday, which was the JP show.

He won the fans’ player of the year award and the club player of the year one, both for the second season running.

Zak was runner-up and Abbo was third, Hally got try of the year – yet again – and Jamie Jones-Buchanan was clubman of the year, with Brian Mac getting the community award.

I wouldn’t argue with any of those.

Player of the year is a tough thing to pick and we have had different players playing well at different times of the year, but JP has been consistently very good all year.

Zak has been outstanding as well and Abbo does all the little things that probably fans don’t notice, but are really important to any team.

And he does them to a high standard every week.

Again, it’s nice to get rewarded for the efforts you put in over the course of the season, but it is all about what happens over the next four weeks.

That’s when you have to be at your best and you get your true rewards if you are. The thing we are all focused on now is having a good end to the season.

As I said last week, we were disappointed to finish sixth in the table, but we are into a new competition, we have given ourselves a shot at the big prize and we are determined to go on and win it.

****

NEVER MIND Christmas, this is the most exciting time of the year.

The pressure is on because we need to win every game from here on in or it will be season over, but that’s good. We revel in the pressure and we like it when it’s do or die.

We know tomorrow is going to be a very tough game. Catalan are a very good side and they are playing well. They have got a big pack and quality backs and they will want to have a big finish to the season.

We will have to play a lot better than we have done over the last four or five weeks, barring Wembley. But knockout rugby tends to bring the best out of us and there has definitely been a different buzz about training this week. Everybody is fit and raring to go and we are all looking forward to this new mini-competition. We are going to go out and give it our best shot and if we all pull together and do our job, we are a tough team to beat. We have made it hard for ourselves with our final league position, but we will give it a go.

I keep reading or hearing that Leeds aren’t that bothered about the regular season or that we have won the Challenge Cup, so it doesn’t really matter what happens in the play-offs.

Neither of those claims could be further from the truth. In terms of the league we were up in the top two or three all year, until the last couple of weeks.

We wanted to finish top and we were gutted about the way we fell away. The Challenge Cup had a bearing on that, but it wasn’t a case of us giving up on the league.

Getting to and winning at Wembley did take a bit out of us, mentally and physically, but that was a month ago, we are all refreshed now and we are ready to go again.

There are no excuses from here on in. We would have loved to be higher up the table, but we are where we are for a reason and it’s up to us now to finish on a high. We have got a maximum of four games left and we need to be at our best every week to give ourselves a shot. We have shown before that we can do it from this sort of position and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again. There’ll be no taking Catalan lightly. The win over there was one of our best, but they should probably have beaten us the last time we played them. It will be a tough game, but that’s what you want, especially at this time of year.

We are all excited and I think if we play to our potential we have got a great chance.

****

SEEING YOUNG Robbie Ward collecting the Shooting Star award this week made me feel old.

I won that in about 2003, which seems like a long time ago.

I was pleased for Robbie and Ashton Golding, who was academy player of the year.

The under-19s have got a very young side this year and to finish fourth in the table was a good effort from their coach Chris Plume and all the lads.

I have not seen as much of them as I’d like this year, but watching the clips of Ashton the other night, he looks a good prospect.

He has got a lot of time in front of him and it’s the same for Robbie.

The Shooting Star award has got some good history and a lot of the past winners have gone on to have very good careers.

I think Robbie must be one of the youngest winners and he is probably a bit further ahead of where he’d expect to be at his age, having had a taste of first team this year.

He will have to bide his time behind Paul Aiton and Rob Burrow, but he’s definitely one to watch for the future.

.

Super 8s and The Qualifers - Who plays who and when over the next seven rounds ...