DANNY McGUIRE hailed Leeds Rhinos’ treble-winning exploits - and then admitted he might have to join Kevin Sinfield in the Yorkshire Carnegie dressing room!
Two-try McGuire won the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man-of-the-match as brilliant Leeds edged an epic Grand Final 22-20 against Wigan Warriors.
It completed the clean sweep of Super League, Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield for the first time in the club’s history - and proved a perfect send-off for departing legends Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai.
Captain Sinfield, 35, scored the match-winning conversion after youngster Josh Walters’ 63rd minute try and - while stalwart props Peacock and Leuluai retire - the former England star now heads to their sister rugby union club after 19 years with Rhinos.
The record-breaking stand-off has led Leeds to seven Grand Final wins and half-back partner McGuire - who debuted in 2001 - has played alongside him in them all.
McGuire, who scored a crucial try in their first Grand Final win in 2004, admitted: “For achievements, this (treble) tops them all.
“We we were all a bit emotional and I felt drained early on as personally three of my best mates are not playing with me next year.
“Psychologically you put it to the back of your mind but you want to send them out on the best terms possible.
“We did that through sheer determination and hard work.
“But it will be weird now not having the Sinfield shirt next to mine on a Friday night.”
Sinfield joins up with Carnegie, who share their Headingley stadium, on November 1 and McGuire admitted: “He’s only moving two changing rooms down.
“I might get changed in Carnegie’s changing rooms for a bit!
“It will be strange and we have a transition now.
“All three aren’t going to be replaced - it’ll be impossible to fill the role JP has - but it’s an opportunity for players to show what they’re made of.
“For me, I just wanted to play as well as I could and run my blood to water as they deserved to go out on a high. I’m glad they did.”
Sinfield admitted: “It doesn’t get any better than this.
“It’s not really sunk in. When I get on a sun lounger and put my feet up it might do then but, right now, I just want to enjoy tonight and the next few days with the lads.
“I am really happy and it was a brilliant win.”
Leeds led 16-6 at the break but went behind after Wigan scored through Dom Manfredi and a brilliant solo try from Matt Bowen.
Brian McDermott’s side battled back, though, via rookie Walters and then kept Wigan quiet in a tense finish in front of a record sell-out Grand Final crowd of 73,512.
Warriors coach Shaun Wane maintained he was “proud” of his players but added: “It hurts like hell, like nothing before.
“We were just a bit dumb in that first 40 minutes. They started better than us.
“The start of the game was important and whether that’s down to experience or not I’m not sure.
“I thought we did some really good things in the second half. Enough to win.
“We had the game won for large periods but just didn’t do enough or score enough points.
“Leeds then showed why they are a champion team; they never gave in.”
Wane also revealed full-back Bowen, the Queenslander full-back playing his own last game before retiring who scored a wonder try in the second half, had been up all hours on Friday night.
“Mango (Bowen) had a baby at 12 o’clock last night,” he said.
“He’s had no sleep. He’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with and it hurts we couldn’t send him off with the win.”