A LOT has been said about me and the Harry Sunderland Trophy, which goes to the Grand Final’s man-of-the-match.
I’ve won it twice but I’ve been blessed to play in a great Leeds Rhinos team which does help with things like that.
I was lucky to get it last year and again in 2007 in another fantastic side here.
No one’s won it three times but I’m not too bothered who gets it this year. I just want a Leeds win against Warrington Wolves.
That will do me. Whoever gets the Harry Sunderland is irrelevant.
We’ve prepared well especially with that victory at Wigan last Friday.
That was massive. I think it was very similar to the Warrington game at the same stage the year before.
We knew we needed a big performance and I think that first 40 minutes – the way we played collectively as a team and all assigned to what our job was perfectly – was probably the best 40 minutes I’ve ever played in.
Obviously, Wigan were going to come back as they’re a quality team but we just had enough to pip them at the end.
It was certainly a memorable match and a lot of people I spoke to afterwards said it was the greatest game of the season.
It was certainly brutal but we’ll need more again against Warrington.
It was a massive effort but that won’t be good enough this week. We have to keep improving. We were good against Wakefield, better at Catalan and better again at Wigan.
Warrington are a fantastic team. We know we need to play at our best – if not better – to get this.
It’s great to have Maggsy (Danny McGuire) back from his ban.
Given we’ve played together since we were both six or seven in the Leeds academy, I suppose it can be like losing an arm when he’s not around.
I do enjoy playing scrum-half when he’s not there though and I got that opportunity at Wigan.
When I get the chance I try to grab it with both hands but you can’t replace Maggsy and it’s brilliant to see him available again.
He’s a player who you can’t survive too long without. Thankfully we did enough there and gave him a chance to play in the final this week
Kev (Sinfield) was huge too and there aren’t many clubs who have got three players – stand-off, scrum-half and loose forward – that have all been together for as long as we have.
I think everyone’s surprised Kev’s never won Man of Steel after all he’s done in Super League.
He has to be the best player the comp’s ever seen.
But he’s not the sort of person who looks for individual awards; he’s all about winning for Leeds Rhinos.
As for Warrington, we know how talented they are.
You only have to look at the players who WON’T play at Old Trafford and see the quality missing out.
That typifies how strong they are.
People like (Brett) Hodgson and (Lee) Briers are instrumental in what they do in attack – they stand out for me –II but the whole pack is massive and you couldn’t leave anyone out when listing their dangerous players.
I am surprised it’s their first Grand Final. Obviously they were heading for one last year but we stopped that and ended up becoming the winners ourselves.
Over the last two or three years, Warrington have been a big, big team, playing well and are now rightfully getting the rewards by playing in a Grand Final.
As to how we manage to get there so regularly, it’s a great question when people ask what it is which makes us push on and find our form at this time of year.
I can’t answer it. We’re just a determined bunch of guys who aim to be in Grand Finals and win trophies.
Once we assign to a task we’re pretty keen to get it done and see it through. Determination is the big thing for me.
We just want to achieve .We’re used to ending our season with happy memories in Manchester and that drives us on every week.
Interview by Dave Craven