After gracing the famous stage for 18 years, Danny McGuire will play at Emerald Headingley for the last time tomorrow.
The Leeds Rhinos legend has been included in Hull KR’s initial 19-man squad for the Betfred Super League relegation four-pointer.
He will retire at the end of this season before taking up a new backroom role with the Robins and admitted tomorrow’s swansong will be “emotional”, but won’t let that get in the way of the job he has to do.
“I am an emotional person, but I was pretty determined to enjoy this last year and not get too caught up in the emotional side of things,” McGuire said.
“Ideally my last game at Headingley, playing against the club I love and where I have got some great memories, would not be a relegation clash, but it is what it is.
“I will put all the emotion to one side and do my job which is to play well for Rovers. That’s what I will be trying to do.”
It is a tough situation for McGuire as his two professional clubs battle each other for their top-flight lives.
A Rhinos win would move them four points clear of second-bottom Hull KR, but they will be back in the pile up at the foot of the ladder if they lose.
With London Broncos and Huddersfield Giants also deep in the mire, both could survive and McGuire stressed: “It is hard.
“I will always have a soft spot for Leeds and that will never change, the situation we are in at Rovers at the moment is not ideal, we would obviously prefer to be higher up the table and in a bit more comfortable position, but we have just got to pull together now for the back end of this season and get ourselves out of trouble.
“That starts with putting in a good performance on Friday night.”
The spoils have been shared in the sides’ two meetings so far this year.
McGuire recalled: “They have both been good tussles.
“We actually played pretty well the first time round and got a good win.
“The game at Headingley was a tale of two halves, Leeds played really well in the first half and we played well in the second.
“They are a different team now, they have got some new personnel and they are probably playing a bit different with a new coach and their attitude looks a lot different defensively. They look like they are playing for the shirt.”
Rovers have recruited hooker Matt Parcell from Leeds since the previous meeting and he will be a key figure.
“There’s always been a few ex-Leeds boys in the Rovers ranks,” McGuire pointed out.
“Whenever you are going up against a club you’ve played for – whether you left on good or bad terms – you want to play well.
“All the ex-Leeds boys will want to do that and in these situations, at this time of year, you have to perform under pressure.
“That’s what we will be trying to do.”
McGuire will become Hull KR’s head of recruitment when he hangs up his boots at the end of the season. He would not rule out a return to Leeds at some point, but stressed: “I have loved my time at Rovers.
“The best decision I made was to take the leap and move out of my comfort zone a bit and face a new challenge. There’s some great people there and so much potential at the club.
“Taking a job on afterwards, I am hoping I can add a little bit and try and steer the club and make it successful and move the club forward. My sole focus at the moment is playing, but I am looking forward to the next step.”