Leeds Rhinos captain Danny McGuire has admitted he is not ignorant to the fact the curtain is slowly coming down on his playing career – but he insists he believes Leeds can return to the winner’s circle in Super League before he retires.
McGuire’s first season as captain of his hometown club saw him limited to just 10 appearances, after numerous injury problems which began on the opening-night defeat to Warrington.
McGuire – who will lead was forced to sit and watch Leeds struggle for long periods of 2016 before ultimately preserving their Super League status in the Qualifiers – and now 34, the former Great Britain international admitted to League Express he knows the end of his career is in sight.
“I’m 34 now, so I’ve started looking at putting things into place for the future and it’s hard not to think about what happens next beyond my playing career,” he said.
“I’ve got an idea of what I want to do and I’ll see how things go this year and decide with the club’s hierarchy what the next step is beyond that.
“I’m not daft enough to ignore when the time is right it’s time to hang them up but I still feel like I can contribute to this team and play well.
“I want one more before I go though; I’ve been in some great squads and some great teams and you get a bit greedy once you’ve had a taste of it.
“We want to be back there at the big dance and I think there’s at least one more opportunity before my time is up to have another trophy parade at Headingley.”
McGuire described 2016 as “mentally challenging and mentally draining” – and admitted Leeds probably missed the club’s former greats such as Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock more than first anticipated.
“It was tough, really tough,” he said.
“It was mentally challenging and mentally draining if I’m being honest and there were some long, dark days throughout it all.
“You just want to be out there and the pressure of being captain does make you feel even worse knowing you’re stuck in the treatment room.
“I think it was tougher without them around. You’re always going to miss people of that calibre because they were big influences around the place but there were plenty of other things which didn’t go right too. It was the culmination of a few things but yeah, their presence was missed – but we’re a year wiser and a year stronger now without them.”
And with a self-confessed point to prove, McGuire is confident Leeds can produce an instant return to the top end of Super League this season.
“I believe we can win everything,” he said.
“Every year I’ve done these pre-season interviews I always say we want to be involved in the big games and the finals and I don’t think we should lower our expectations after one poor season we believe was a one-off.
“Everyone else will want the same thing I know, but we’ve got a real point to prove.”