Leeds Rhinos: Skipper aims to put best foot forward

Danny McGuire. PIC: Steve Riding
Danny McGuire. PIC: Steve Riding
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FRUSTRATED LEEDS Rhinos captain Danny McGuire is staying positive in the face of another injury setback.

McGuire will miss tonight’s visit of Salford Red Devils after suffering damage to a foot in the win at London Broncos 13 days ago.

But he has not given up hope of playing again this year and says he is confident of getting back to his best in 2017.

McGuire was appointed captain in the off-season after being one of the main influences behind last year’s treble triumph, but has been dogged by injury problems throughout 2016, with four separate spells on the casualty list.

There were fears he could miss the rest of the season after limping off in the first half against London, but the seven-time Grand Final winner is determined to play a part in Rhinos’ fight against relegation.

Speaking of his latest disappointment, McGuire, who has been restricted to just 13 competitive appearances this term, said: “I am all right.

“It is just frustrating and disappointing how things have gone this year with injuries, but there’s not a lot I can do about it.

“I have tried to keep as positive as I can and work as hard as possible to not finish the season like this.”

McGuire was only two games into his comeback from a previous lay-off when he was hurt against London and admitted he may have contributed to his own downfall.

He said: “If I am honest, I probably pushed it a little bit too much with coming back from my foot injury before.

“It’s something all players do – I am not looking for sympathy or anything like that.

“All players try to knock a couple of weeks off how long they are supposed to be out. Looking back now I probably should have rested it for a couple more weeks, but that’s the choice you make and the decision you make at the time.

“I just happened to do the same injury again at London.”

McGuire was anxious to clear Broncos’ synthetic surface, at Ealing Trailfinders, of any blame.

“A few people have asked me, but it wasn’t anything to do with the pitch,” McGuire insisted.

“It was a good occasion down there, it was just unfortunate.”

Rhinos have only four games left in the First Utility Qualifiers, but of his prospects of playing again this year McGuire said: “I am hoping to.

“I was in a boot for the last week and it settled down quite quickly.

“I think it’s probably just an injury that needs time and a bit of time off my feet, but in sport and our game it is hard to do that.

“The physios haven’t really said anything yet, I am just taking each day as it comes and trying my best to get back and finish the season in a better way than it is at the minute, with me being on the sidelines.”

The current lay-off is a recurrence of an existing problem and McGuire recalled: “I did my knee at the start of the year against Warrington and then it’s been my foot, foot and foot again.

“It has been the same injury, more or less, with a few little tweaks in between, which doesn’t help.

“I am getting on a bit now and you end up picking up a few more, but I still feel like I have got loads to give.

“This has been a frustrating year with not playing many games, but I still feel like I have a lot left in the tank.

“I am definitely going to knuckle down in pre-season and come back stronger next year.”

McGuire, who was man of the match in last October’s Old Trafford win over Wigan Warriors, admitted he didn’t see this year’s problems coming.

“I didn’t miss a training session all pre-season,” he revealed.

“I felt in good shape at the start of the year and I felt really good for the half an hour I played against Warrington!

“Other than that, it has been a bit of a battle to be honest, but I am pretty determined to make sure this isn’t how my career finishes.

“I am hoping to get back for the back end of this year, but if not I am going to do everything I can in pre-season and look for a big year next year.”

McGuire had hoped to make an impression in his debut campaign as captain. He said: “That has been disappointing, but there’s not a lot I can do about it.

“I have tried my best to be a good influence around the team and I think at times it has been tough, because you do get a bit disheartened when you’re not playing.

“But I feel like I have done the job pretty well. It was always going to be a tough task following Kev [Sinfield] and what we did last year, but I am not disappointed with how I’ve done things. I think when I’ve been on the field I’ve done okay.”

Meanwhile, Rhinos will pay tribute at tonight’s game to club president Harry Jepson, who died on Monday, aged 96.

“Harry is a legend of the club and of the game and a really lovely fella,” McGuire said. “It is very sad news. The nice thing is he respected all eras.

“Even though he had seen players from the 1930s onwards he appreciated what is happening today. He had a good understanding of everything that went on in the game and he will be missed by everyone at the club.”

Tom Briscoe.

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