IT WON’T be easy, but we have to bounce back – it’s our job.
That was the pledge from captain Danny McGuire in the wake of Leeds Rhinos’ shattering 43-24 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Hull.
It was McGuire’s last Cup tie for Leeds before he joins Hull KR in the closed season and his hopes of bowing out by lifting a trophy now depend on Rhinos getting to October’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.
McGuire insisted his personal motivation has not changed and he reckons Rhinos have the strength of character to put the disappointment of two days ago behind them.
“I will be trying as hard as I was [on Saturday],” he said of Leeds’ Super-8s campaign which begins at home to Wigan Warriors on Friday.
“It is a tough game and there’s some tough teams.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we are doing, keep working hard for these next few months and see where we end up.
“That’s the challenge for us now.”
McGuire admitted: “We have got a big hurdle in front of us and we’ve just got to keep playing.
“It’s our job to get up for the Super-8s. The intensity was high [in the semi-final] and there was a lot of pressure.
“Sometimes that takes a lot out of you so we’ll have to be smart with what we do in the next few weeks.
“We’ve got to drive on with our Super League form now and make sure we stay in the top-four.”
Rhinos go into the Super-8s second in the table, with a three-point lead over third-placed Hull.
“We have to pick ourselves up now,” McGuire said.
“That is the challenge for everybody.
“The intensity and everything out there was tough, but the challenge now for us is to be ready for Friday.”
Leeds had been aiming for a sixth Wembley appearance in eight seasons, but McGuire accepted Hull, who had lost their previous eight meetings with Rhinos, were too good on the day.
Rhinos trailed 18-12 at the break, but went 25-12 down in the third quarter.
A try by Kallum Watkins threatened to spark a revival, but McGuire reflected: “I never thought we had a hold of the game in that second half.
“I just thought Hull had the momentum. We very rarely got down their end with the ball and I can’t remember many mistakes from them in the second half.
“We’ve got to give them credit, they deserved it.
“They played good semi-final, attritional rugby league.
“They kept hold of the ball, the big fellas carried it strong and the backs carried it strong.
“Marc Sneyd kicked really well and they took their opportunities when they came.
“I don’t think we were that far off, we didn’t make any towering mistakes or anything like that, we just got beaten by a better team.”
McGuire felt Hull’s try on the stroke of half-time was a crucial turning point.
“I thought for the majority of the first half we were in control and we were playing all right,” he said.
“Hull kept in there, but the try at the back end swung momentum a bit.”