IT WILL be the end of an era, but Leeds Rhinos legend Danny McGuire says the time is right to move on – for him and the club.
McGuire, who made his debut in 2001 and has been captain since the start of last season, has confirmed he will leave Rhinos at the end of the year.
It was thought McGuire’s current deal ended this autumn, but club chief executive Gary Hetherington confirmed he was under contract for 2018 and Rhinos have agreed to long-serving player’s release.
McGuire, 34, is Super League’s record try scorer and only three players have bettered his total of 262 touchdowns for Leeds.
His 413 games in blue and amber include 19 major finals and he has won seven Grand Finals, the league leaders’ shield and World Club title three times each and the Challenge Cup twice.
Speculation has been mounting over his role at the club since last month when Rhinos announced the signing of half-back Richie Myler from top-flight rivals Catalans Dragons on a three-year contract beginning next season.
It has been an unbelievable more than 20 years, I’ve met some great people and played with fantastic players and made memories that will last a lifetime.Danny McGuire
“It was probably a mutual decision really, but I felt myself it was the right time,” he said.
“You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach.
“I got my opportunity when I was 18 when things happened at the club and I was able to grasp that and I feel it’s the right time to step aside and look for a new challenge – and for the club as well.”
McGuire admitted leaving his hometown club will be a huge wrench.
“I found it hard to come to terms with,” he said.
“I have been at the club since I was a 12-year-old lad and thought it would be my home for all my career. It has been an unbelievable more than 20 years, I’ve met some great people and played with fantastic players and made memories that will last a lifetime.
“I had a contract for next year, but speaking to and with Richie Myler coming in and Jordan Lilley signing, I felt the club needed to move on and look to the future as well.”
On Monday, the Yorkshire Evening Post revealed McGuire had received offers from other clubs. He said he “100 per cent” plans to play on next year, but has yet to sign anywhere else.
“It’s not decided yet, I am still weighing up options and working out the best one for me at the moment,” he said.
“There’s a few options out there and I am pretty close to knowing what I am going to do.”
Promotion-chasing Hull KR, whose football manager is former Rhinos prop Jamie Peacock, are understood to be leading the chase to sign Leeds-born McGuire.
Wakefield Trinity could be in the market for a half-back if Sam Williams decides to return to the NRL, while Warrington’s Tony Smith – McGuire’s former Rhinos coach – is also an admirer of the player, but the Rhinos’ partner club, Featherstone Rovers, have played down their chances.