ROB BURROW has hailed fellow Headingley legend Danny McGuire as “Mr Leeds Rhinos” as he prepares to make his 400th appearance for the club.
McGuire will become only the 13th player to reach that milestone when he captains Leeds away to Warrington Wolves tonight.
Burrow is already a member of Rhinos’ 400 club, having made 475 appearances.
The pair broke through to the first team in the same season, 2001 and have been at the heart of Rhinos’ success this century, playing together in seven Grand Final triumphs and two Challenge Cup victories.
“I think Danny’s career speaks for itself,” Burrow said of his long-time team-mate.
“He is Mr Leeds Rhinos. He has been a fantastic ambassador for the club from day one and he is still doing it now.
“He has been an amazing player. Some people are very good growing up and then fall by the wayside, but Danny has always been at the top of his game right from when he was 12 or 13 when I used to play against him.
“He is still there now, he still has as big an effect on a game now as he did when he made his debut. Myself included, players change their game over time, but Danny has always been able to determine the outcome of a game, whether that’s scoring, setting tries up, kicking or whatever.
“Those are the sort of people you want in your team. If you could have 17 Danny McGuires playing you’d know you were going to win, because he is so passionate and so determined to do well for the club.”
McGuire’s game has evolved over the years. He began as an instinctive try-poacher who was blessed with raw pace, but in recent seasons has taken more of an organising role, and Burrow said: “He has been able to bring the best out of people.
“That is a great skill to have. He has still got the facets he had at the beginning, but he has developed massively in the areas of controlling and organising.
“He is essential to our team for that and without him doing that I don’t think the team could perform like it does.
“That is testimony to his skill base. He can score tries and create them. He was known as an opportunist, knowing how to spot a gap and when to go for it. He has still got that and he has added everything to his game as well.”
Rhinos beat Wigan in Kallum Watkins’ 200th Leeds game last week and will travel to Warrington hoping to mark McGuire’s big night in similar fashion.
Leeds are second in Betfred Super League and on a four-match winning run, while bottom-placed Warrington have suffered six defeats and a draw in their seven games so far. But Rhinos’ last win at Warrington was six years ago and Burrow reckons form and statistics are irrelevant.
“Our record there isn’t great,” he admitted. “Warrington have not been going great this year and they will look at Leeds on the fixture list and think that’s the game when we turn things around.
“They had a good result against Hull, who are flying high as well and we expect Warrington to be how they are every time we go there – on form with the crowd behind them, start off big and then blow us away.
“That’s what we have got to combat. They were 22-4 down against Hull last week and came back and got a draw and that will have given them a lot of confidence. The could have let their heads drop, but they didn’t. They have obviously got some fight about them and they have got a class coach in Tony Smith. I think they will be fine. I’ve been there and I understand what it’s like, but we came out of it towards the end of last year and I know they will as well – and they will look to do that against us.”
But Leeds are growing in confidence and Burrow reckons they can match any team if they produce their best form.
“We’ve got a lot of good things going on at the moment,” he said. “We are not getting carried away, but if we can keep improving and put in a similar performance to the Wigan game we will be in with a shout.”
Rhinos have been in impressive form since their heavy loss at Castleford Tigers five weeks ago, but Burrow stressed the important thing is to maintain their momentum.
“We have bounced back from the Cas game,” he said. “I don’t think I can remember a time when I was so deflated.
“I didn’t play in the game, but after it – in meetings – it was a really dark time. We had a lot of dark times last year, but what we’ve been able to do is move on. We were disappointed in ourselves, but we have put things right. We have worked hard since and I think that has been put to bed now, but it doesn’t mean anything.
“We want to win and we want to be near the top of the table.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos coach Brian McDermott says Brett Ferres will not appeal against the six-match ban imposed for making dangerous contact with Wigan’s Oliver Gildart.
Rhinos under-19s face Newcastle at Stanningley tomorrow (12.30pm).
Warrington Wolves: from Atkins, Clark, Cooper, Dwyer, Evans, Gidley, Hill, Hughes, G King, T King, Lineham, Livett, Patton, Philbin, Ratchford, Russell, Sims, Westerman, Westwood.
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Mullally, Walters, Baldwinson, Oledzki.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.