HE may be more refined and greyer compared to his breathtaking early days but Leeds Rhinos star Danny McGuire admits he loves his current role.
It seems incredulous for those who remember the fresh-faced youngster who scored the try that set-up Leeds’ first Super League title win in 2004 but the half-back actually turned 32 on Saturday.
Yet with almost 350 games under his belt for the Rhinos, McGuire is showing no signs of slowing up.
Initially renowned for his eye for the break, acceleration and poaching instinct, the ex-England star is now a more rounded playmaker, who continues to be integral to the Blue and Amber cause.
Currently enjoying pre-season training, he admits not being concerned at seeing another birthday pass by or worried about losing any of his initial pace.
“In the last few years, I’ve taken more responsibility on within the team anyway and I don’t think age really dictates that,” said the six-time Grand Final winner and Super League’s record try-scorer.
“The position I play, I’m more in charge, bossing people around regardless, telling them what to do.
“I suppose when you are one of the senior guys you have to set the standards for the younger lads and make sure they strive to get to the levels us boys have been at for a few years now.
“Hopefully, they take that as a bit of a challenge and try and compete. It’s our responsibility to set the standards for them.
“I’m probably not doing the fancy things – the 100m tries – any more but I think my all-around game working with team-mates around me has improved.”
Certainly, McGuire was one of Leeds’ best players in 2014, proving a consistent force often alongside long-time half-back partner Kevin Sinfield and helping his home-town club to that previously elusive Challenge Cup final win.
However, he knows he will face increasingly stiff competition from Liam Sutcliffe in 2015, the exciting 20-year-old who was shortlisted for Super League’s Young Player of the Year this term.
“I think Sutty will challenge more again,” said McGuire.
“He played a lot of games this year but it keeps you on your toes knowing you have to fight for your position.
“Hopefully, I’m playing well enough at six or seven and doing a good enough job. I do still feel I’ve plenty left in me and was happy with how things went last term.
“I’m excited for this season. I really want to have a good year.”