Leeds Rhinos captain Danny McGuire believes that in a testing season, in more ways than one so far in 2016, Magic Weekend is a scenario and a backdrop that could bring the best out of his side.
Bottom of the league 14 games into the defence of their Super League title, the Rhinos head to Newcastle for Magic to face Wigan Warriors looking to claw their way out of the bottom four – a process that would start with a win on Saturday evening.
And McGuire told TotalRL that the players are determined to make amends for last Thursday’s hammering at the hands of Castleford – and that St James’ Park is a venue that should do nothing but get them motivated.
“We’re sticking together – that’s the big thing,” he said.
“All the players are determined to make something of this season, and it’s no good pointing fingers at people. We’re approaching games in the right way and we’re working hard, but I just think we need to show a response to a performance which was unacceptable for a club of our standard.
“I think it’s a venue which could bring the best out of this group. If you can’t motivate yourself to play in front of 40,000 fans, you’re in the wrong game. I believe in this group, and I know we shouldn’t be where we are, at the bottom of the table. Individually as players, we need to make sure we step up our game.
“I hope it’s a good opportunity to move on, coming to a fresh environment. We need to respond, clearly; we didn’t perform against Castleford but if you can’t respond in a stadium like this, you’re in the wrong job. It’s important for us. It’s been a tough yearbut we need to come out and show we’ve got some fire in our bellies.”
McGuire revealed he came through his comeback against Castleford without any repercussions of the quad injury which had ruled him out for a number of weeks – but insisted he’s nowhere near his best just yet.
“I came through fine with the injury, I just need a few games under my belt. I’ve played 30 minutes injury-free this year and it’s tough – but that’s sport. I just want to have a run in the team now and find some consistency.
“It’ll take me a few games to find my feet but hopefully we can start by getting a good performance in on Saturday.
“It’s not got going yet, my season. I was playing at 25-30 per cent of my potential at the weekend, but that’s how it goes – you’ve got to ease yourself back in.
“I didn’t expect to come back and be firing on all cylinders, it just makes it more difficult when the team aren’t firing, so I need to step up and get going as quickly as possible.