Leeds Rhinos ace Danny McGuire gives his view from the dressing room
I AM not massively into the Tour de France, but I have to admit the Grand Depart is exciting.
I like all sports and I keep an eye on the Tour de France when it’s on TV, but I wouldn’t spend an a whole afternoon watching it like I would football, cricket or golf.
But like a lot of people, I have got more interested since British riders like Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins – who is a Wigan Warriors fan – and Chris Froome started doing well.
Knowing it is coming to this country and my home city, I have been taking an interest in the build-up to and I am looking forward to it all actually kicking off next week.
There’s going to be some disruption, but it’s only for a day or two and it’s worth putting up with that for all the attention it’s bringing to God’s own county.
It’s not often you get to watch some of the world’s top stars doing their thing for free, especially right outside your front door, so I will be trying to get out and watch a week tomorrow, if we’re not doing re-hab after the Wakefield game.
Having the race here is good for Leeds and I have to take my hat off to Welcome to Yorkshire for the job they’ve done in getting it here and promoting the event.
It is a once in a lifetime thing and I hope everyone gets behind it and makes it a big success, so we can show off what Leeds and Yorkshire in general is all about.
Sunday’s game against Catalan is sort of the unofficial start of the celebrations and hopefully we can get them off to a flier with a big win.
The French team are in good form. They had a tough start to the year and a lot of injuries had an impact on them early in the season, but they’ve shown what they can do over the last few weeks and they are a real threat, especially up front with their massive pack.
It is going to be tough and physical and we will need to play a lot better than we have done the last few weeks.
The two points last Sunday were welcome, but it was a scratchy performance and we can and must play a lot better.
The big positive was getting some players back.
Paul Aiton has been out for a long time, but he got back into the swing of things quite quickly and I thought he looked good.
You can’t expect miracles straight away after three months on the casualty list, but Paulie got a decent amount of game time and made a real contribution in the second half.
He is only going to get better with more minutes under his belt and it’s the same with Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
He did really well, but the only luck he’s having at the moment is bad and I really felt for him when he had to come off with a knee injury. Hopefully it is not going to be a long one, because we are a better team when he is on the pitch. Jonesy is one of the toughest, most competitive and dedicated people I know and it really hurts him when he can’t contribute to the team, so we are all hoping he will be back in action before too long.
BRADFORD BULLS might be struggling in Super League at the moment, but they won a trophy this week.
The big event on Tuesday was Super League’s best Golfer, staged at Cookridge Golf Club and organised by my mate Richard Mathers.
It was a fantastic day, but I am still coming to terms with the performance of the winner, Bradford’s James Donaldson.
For a start, he wasn’t originally due to take part, but came in as a last-gasp replacement. And then he went out and scored 42 points. Normally 36 points is a good score, so he has either played very well, or he did not disclose his true handicap!
I am still pondering which of those was the case, but congratulations to him anyway. This is not sour grapes, as it is the taking part which counts, not the winning. I played all right, but I was a bit up and down. I had a good first nine and I was pretty rubbish over the back nine, but I really enjoyed it.
I played with Richie and we had a couple of good guests, so it was good fun and we had a laugh.
I always like to support charity events when I can and this was a bit of a triple-whammy, because I was also helping Richie and getting to play one of my favourite sports as well. People think rugby players spend most of their spare time playing golf, but – sadly – that’s not true, at least not at Leeds.
We used to have a good little golfing group, including the likes of Richie and Lee Smith, but they have both moved on and the only other Rhinos player taking part on Tuesday was Ryan Hall.
Super League’s Best Golfer is Richie’s brainchild and I was really pleased for him with the way it went.
The amount of effort he puts into it is enormous and I know he has been planning it for the best part of a year. It has been going for three years now and there were teething problems when he started, but it’s becoming a great day out and I think it will be a highlight of the social calendar in years to come.
It’s not easy getting players together from various clubs, because we all have different training schedules, days off and so on, but players came from all over – including Hull KR and Warrington – and most importantly money was raised for two good causes.
St Gemma’s Hospice is very close to Richie’s heart and they will get a share of the proceeds, along with the Steve Prescott Foundation, so everyone was a winner, not just James Donaldson.
IT’S NOT a great time to be an England sports fan, is it?
The World Cup has been pretty good, with some exciting matches and lots of goals, but as far as England are concerned, I think everybody had low expectations and the team met them. Not qualifying for the knockout stages is a big disappointment and obviously there’s going to be a lot of soul-searching before the Euros in two years’ time.
Having been part of disappointing campaigns myself, I can imagine how bad the players and staff are feeling at the moment,.
I don’t think they actually played badly, but they weren’t very good either and not winning a single game is a huge let down. I imagine it is a frustrating environment to be part of at the moment.
The cricket team haven’t raised national spirits either. They were a bit unfortunate not to win the first Test and I think Sri Lanka deserved their win at Headingley this week, though England did make a great fight of it. After all that misery, I think the nation’s hopes are resting on Andy Murray, above, at Wimbledon. I know he’s a Scot, but he is British so good luck to him.