VETERAN PAIRING Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow can run the show for Leeds Rhinos this year, Aussie forward Adam Cuthbertson believes.
The duo, both aged 34, were partnered together for Rhinos at stand-off and scrum-half in last week’s pre-season win over Hull KR.
Burrow, after playing much of his rugby over recent seasons in the hooking role, produced a commanding performance and was well supported by McGuire, the club captain who was restricted to just 13 games last term due to injury.
McGuire will miss tomorrow’s warm-up match at Featherstone Rovers because of a calf problem suffered scoring a try last Friday and Liam Sutcliffe is set to step up and play alongside Burrow.
But Cuthbertson – who is also unavailable tomorrow, due to illness – said the way the number six and seven controlled last week’s game was a positive sign for when the real business starts next month.
“I think for Magsy and Rob to keep it simple and just focus on those last tackle options [as they did last week] is great for us,” Cuthbertson said.
“When Kev [Sinfield] left we lost a lot of that direction, because he was born to kick and he was really great with that.
“I think they are starting to really take over that part of the game now and it’s going to be really good for us.”
Rhinos will go into tomorrow’s penultimate pre-season fixture in upbeat mood after last Friday’s 30-4 success, Cuthbertson reckons.
“It was a lot better,” he said.
“We were still a bit scratchy in attack, but we are that much fitter this year and we are playing a lot quicker.
“That’s what these games are for, to get some momentum and work on a few things.
“I think for us last week the big positive was defence.
“We showed a lot of pride and had a good work ethic generally, the whole team worked hard and kept backing each other up, no matter what.
“Hull KR are a good team, they’ve got good halves, a good hooker and a couple of big forwards, so to only concede one try – considering they had the ball on our line a lot – was massive for us and will do a lot for our confidence.”
Leeds scored five tries and Cuthbertson felt there were also signs of things coming together with ball in hand.
“We weren’t bad in attack,” he said of the performance in Ryan Hall’s testimonial game.
“What we did was we took opportunities when there were quick turnovers and we managed to get it through the hands and some of the little things we might have stumbled on last year we did really well.”
Rhinos face a tough start to their league campaign, but Cuthbertson said: “We’ve got two more weeks to get things right before we have to rip into the competition. We will take a lot of confidence from the way we defended last week and a big thing for us is how fit we are.
“Mitch [Garbutt], Singo [Brad Singleton] and myself in the middle are doing a lot more running and we are doing it quite comfortably at the moment.
That’s something we’ve worked really, really hard on with the coaching staff in pre-season and it is starting to play off.”