THE PAST four weeks have been among the best of Danny McGuire’s glittering Leeds Rhinos career, he says.
McGuire will make his 400th appearance for Leeds – and 350th in Super League – when Rhinos visit Warrington Wolves tonight.
Leeds are aiming for a fifth straight win, following their record 66-10 loss at Castleford Tigers and McGuire said he has “enjoyed the last month as much as any other regular-season games”.
Said the captain: “We got challenged and as players we wanted to show our commitment to the club and to each other.
“I think we’ve done that with our performances. They’ve not been easy games, we’ve played some tough teams and we are going in the right direction.
“We are happy with how we’re performing, but we recognise we’ve loads of things to keep improving on. There’s loads of positive signs, but nobody’s getting carried away.”
McGuire insisted Rhinos’ recent run has not come as a surprise.
He added: “We had a quiet belief at the start of the year that we were capable of doing something good.
“I don’t think that’s changed. We’ve had a few games when we haven’t performed to our best, but that’s inevitable in this competition this year.
“There’s some unpredictability there and if you are not performing you’ll get turned over. But I think for 80 per cent of the games we’ve been very good.
“We’re happy with where we’re at and what we’re doing, but we realise we have to get better if we’re going to be challenging.”
McGuire described tonight’s milestone as a “really special achievement”.
“I feel really proud and pretty humbled to be able to say I have done 399 now,” he said.
“It might sound a bit cheesy, but every one is special in its own way. Being a Leeds lad I have never taken it for granted, wearing that shirt.
“I’ve obviously had a good career and I have really enjoyed being part of such a great club with so many great players along the way.”
Kallum Watkins celebrated his 200th Leeds game with a try in last week’s win over Wigan and McGuire would love a repeat.
“It would be nice,” he said. “I don’t get many nowadays, but as long as the team are going well and we can keep performing and being consistent and we keep enjoying what we are doing, I will be happy.
“Warrington is always a tough place to go and get a win and I don’t think we could have got a tougher one for my 400th game. They are doing it tough at the minute which probably makes the job even tougher for us, but I am excited and looking forward to it.”
McGuire, 34, admitted he never expected to spend so long at his hometown club.
“When you make your debut that’s the first box ticked,” he recalled. “Anything after that is a plus.
“I have seen so many players come and go who you think could potentially play 200-300 games for the club and they don’t last two minutes.
“So to be able to be at the club for such a long time and to play in such a crucial position for such a long time as well, I feel really proud to have been able to achieve that and hopefully I’ve got a few more games left in my legs now.”
Warrington have yet to win in Super League this year, but McGuire reckons they will come good at some stage.
“It is tough,” he said. “In sport everybody wants to be riding high and winning.
“There’s no better feeling than being in the changing rooms after winning and singing your team song and then you can really enjoy your weekend and build into another week and another challenge.
“When you are losing it’s tough, it’s mentally more draining than physically.”
He added: “But I looked at their team against Hull last weekend and said to myself ‘how can they be at the bottom of the league with the players they’ve got’?
“They’ve got a great team and a brilliant coach in Tony Smith and Richard Agar as well. They’ll bounce back for sure.
“I just hope it’s not this week, but obviously we can sympathise. We went through it last year, but we will be trying to go there to make it even worse for them.
“We need to go there for ourselves. As a team in that situation you just want to get that first win to start building that momentum and that’s what Warrington will be speaking about this week.
“It makes them dangerous. They’ve got quality spread all over the park. They are littered with great players.
“We aren’t taking them lightly. Over the last month our preparation has been really good, the coaches have been working really hard behind the scenes and the lads have been working hard on the training field.
“That is the way we’ve approached it this week.”