Leeds Rhinos: Last-gasp heroics have put us in good heart for the semi-final, says Danny McGuire

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EVERYBODY HAS been bouncing in training this week and we’re ready to go.

It’s our biggest game of the season – so far – tonight, but we have taken a lot of confidence out of the way we finished last week.

Danny McGuire

Danny McGuire

It was an unbelievable finale to the league season and the most incredible end to a game I have ever been involved in.

You could see from the scenes at the end how much it meant to us and we have carried that enthusiasm over into training this week.

We have worked hard all year to put ourselves in a position to finish like that. Given a choice, I’d have preferred not to leave it so late and we did have a couple of opportunities to make it more comfortable, but it’s something people who were there will remember for a long time.

The wait on the pitch at the end, while the helicopter turned around and headed back from Wigan with the league leaders’ shield, made it a great occasion and celebrating in front of our fans was something that will stay with me for years.

The big issue during the game was the penalty a couple of minutes from the end. Everybody wanted to win the game and there was a discussion on the field about the best way to go.

The message came out to take the two, but that’s what we were planning to do anyway. In hindsight, it was the right decision because we went on to win the game, but at the time we were settling for a draw and bringing Huddersfield back to Headingley for the semi-final.

The final set was one of those once in a lifetime things, but it underlined one of the reasons this team has been so successful; we play right until the end.

Over the course of the season a few things have gone against us, the odd bounce of the ball and suchlike, but it always evens itself out.

My kick sat up nicely for Hally and chasing him down the wing in the last second was as good as winning the Challenge Cup.

The league leaders’ shield is worth more money this year, it’s got a higher profile now and the bonuses are better, which always helps!

So did we deserve it? I’d say so. We put a lot into finishing top this year and we were six points clear a couple of times.

The way we played in the early and middle of the season earned us the right to be top at the end, even after having a few disappointing weeks.

It’s a cliché, but we aren’t getting carried away. The really big challenge is still to come and we will have to play better against Saints in tonight’s semi-final.

They are a good team and we’ve had some real tussles with them this year. They played well in the Challenge Cup semi-final and beat us a month or so ago, the week after Wembley.

We had a few players missing that night and there was a bit of a hangover from the final, but they have built some form since then and people like Jon Wilkin are playing really well, so it’ll be a tough game and it will come down to who turns up best on the night.

We all know what happened after winning the Cup, but it’s a different scenario this week. We celebrated for a few days after Wembley, but as soon as we got off the pitch last Friday the talk was all about tonight’s game.

There won’t be a hangover. Everybody is fully focused on what we need to do this week and we are all geared up to produce the nine or 10 out of 10 performances we’ll need to get past Saints.

There’s another big game tomorrow. The million pound match is going to be really interesting and I think it’s a good concept, especially if you’re not involved!

I have got some good mates at Wakefield, but Bradford have had some good results this year and it’s a tough one to call.

They are both coming off the back of a bad defeat, but there is so much at stake it is going to be a really tense occasion.

I don’t like to do it, but I am sitting on the fence. I have no idea who is going to win that one.

Stevie Ward.

Leeds Rhinos still targeting league leaders’ shield says Stevie Ward