Danny McGuire not intending to declare just yet

It is an almost impossible number to process in rugby league terms.

Players will always say they never target milestones – but in all honesty, Danny McGuire could have surely never imagined he’d get this far.

On Friday night, the Leeds captain – who must surely rank as one of Super League’s all-time greats – will bring up his 400th appearance for the Rhinos against Warrington. Any talk of retirement at the end of this season is yet to be discussed between the club and McGuire himself: but for now, the half-back has certainly no intention of stopping at number 400.

“When you make your debut, that’s the first box ticked and everything after that is a plus,” he admitted earlier this week.

“I’ve seen so many players come and go who could potentially play 200 or 300 games for the club and they don’t last two minutes.

“So to be at the club for such a long time and play in a crucial position for such a long time, I feel proud to have been able to achieve that. Hopefully I’ve got a few more games left in the old legs as well.”

McGuire could have quite easily brought up appearance number 400 in different circumstances given how rough appearance number 395 was: the 66-10 hammering at the hands of Castleford a month ago.

But since that chastening evening across West Yorkshire, Leeds have won four games in a row, firmly answering any critics of the Rhinos following arguably their darkest day.

“I’ve enjoyed the last month as much as any other regular season games,” he insists.

“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.”

Yet McGuire can easily relate to the plight of Friday night’s opponents. The Wolves are this year’s surprise package at the bottom just months after reaching the Grand Final – a situation Leeds were in themselves 12 months ago.

“We can sympathise. We struggled a bit last year,” he said.

“When you’re losing it’s tough, it’s mentally more training than physically. But I looked at their team against Hull and said to myself ‘how can they be bottom of the league with the players they’ve got’.

“They’ve got a great team and obviously a brilliant coach in Tony and Richard Agar there as well. They will bounce back for sure and I just hope it’s not this week. We’ll be trying to make it even worse for them.”

The very nature of sport means those dark days of 2016 seem like a long time ago – as does that horrible defeat at Castleford. As McGuire prepares for such a historic milestone on Friday night, recent form may give him hope there is still at least one big night left in a glittering career.