Hull KR’s Danny McGuire ready for one last hurrah as a player

Danny McGuire applauds Hull KR's fans (Picture: James Hardisty)
Danny McGuire applauds Hull KR's fans (Picture: James Hardisty)
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AS HE enters the final year of his illustrious playing career, Super League’s all-time greatest try-scorer Danny McGuire admits he would eventually like to lend his expertise as a specialist half-back coach to tomorrow’s stars.

It certainly makes sense; the Hull KR stand-off has been one of the best of the modern era, during his countless trophy-hoarding years with Leeds Rhinos and while representing both England and Great Britain.

Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield with Carnegie World Club Challenge Trophy back in 2005 in their Leeds Rhinos days. (Picture: Steve Riding)

Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield with Carnegie World Club Challenge Trophy back in 2005 in their Leeds Rhinos days. (Picture: Steve Riding)

Australian immortal Andrew Johns hires himself out in such a manner, dipping into clubs at different times to take their creative hubs under his wing.

Utilising McGuire’s vast experience and skillset is something the RFL could perhaps take advantage of when looking at England’s playmakers across the age groups.

However, the 36-year-old is not thinking too far ahead just yet, merely concentrating on making the most of his final campaign with the Robins.

“I’ve nothing planned yet and I’ve had no offers but my main focus is playing now,” McGuire told The Yorkshire Post.

You get players who want to coach but going to tell a prop how to do his role is not something I’d automatically think of doing.

Danny McGuire

“At some point I will have to sort my future but there’s no rush yet. Over the next few months I’ll see what opportunities are out there but I would like to stay involved in the game if I can.

“I’d really enjoy doing some individual coaching, working with half-backs. I don’t think there’s anyone really doing that but I think it’s so crucial. That’d be my preferred route.

“You get players who want to coach but going to tell a prop how to do his role is not something I’d automatically think of doing.

“I’m not saying it can’t be done but it’d be a hell of a lot easier to work with half-backs and share experiences I’ve had as a player in that position. It is something I’m really keen on.”

Hull KR's Danny McGuire (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Hull KR's Danny McGuire (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

The obvious route would be back to Emerald Headingley where McGuire spent 20 years with his hometown club, amassing more than 400 games and winning eight Grand Finals before joining Rovers last season.

Indeed, one by one, the band seems to be getting back together there; captain Kevin Sinfield is now installed as director of rugby, Rob Burrow is on the coaching staff and Dave Furner – the Australian who featured in Rhinos’ first Grand Final success with McGuire in 2004 – has returned as head coach ahead of next month’s season start.

Even Jamie Peacock, who retired after Leeds’s 2015 treble-success and enticed McGuire to Craven Park when Rovers’ head of rugby, returned last month in Rhinos’ commercial department.

“And JJB (Jamie Jones-Buchanan) will be retiring at the end of the year, too,” offered McGuire.

“The plan was always to go back to Leeds Rhinos at some point. But sometimes it doesn’t always work out like that does it?

“I really enjoy it at Hull KR and I’ve learned loads off Tim (Sheens) already in a short space of time.”

As a coaching mentor, there are not many better than Sheens, the Rovers head coach who won the 2013 World Cup with Australia and wracked up a record amount of first-grade games in the NRL and its predecessor.

McGuire hopes their unison will be productive in 2019 after what was a difficult campaign last time out.

The player shone when fit but was hindered by a series of injury problems, not least an unusual blood clot in his calf.

Rovers needed to negotiate safety via the Qualifiers but finished strongly.

McGuire admitted: “The expectations are probably a little higher now. Being the promoted club it was just about finding our feet and survival.

“We’ve signed some good players and added some quality. Training’s going really well, we have a really good set of lads and personally I really enjoy working with Tim and the coaches here.

“It’s a great club and I just want to show what we can do. That’s the goal; improving as a team.”

It was back on November 11 that McGuire inadvertently announced his imminent retirement – many will argue he should go on longer – when he sent a Tweet declaring: “18th and last pre season starts again tomorrow. Looking forward to getting stuck in with the boys!!”

“It wasn’t meant to be (official) and I didn’t think about it when I put that Tweet out,” he admitted.

“But it is definitely going to be my last year and so I just want to try and enjoy everything about it.

“It’ll be my last year playing at certain grounds and against certain players and this is now my last pre-season. I want to get stuck into it and give it everything I’ve got. I’m determined to enjoy it, play well and see where we end up.”

Still, Peacock came out of retirement for the Robins and McGuire’s former Lions colleague Kirk Yeaman did so for Hull FC only last May, too, so what happens if come July he’s playing better than ever?

“No, I’ve made my decision and I’m 99.9 per cent certain it’ll be my last year,” he insisted.

“There’s a few things. I still love what I’m doing and I still feel like I’m giving a lot to the team.

“It doesn’t mean I’m going to wind down this year or anything – I want to play as well as I can and the body does feel good so I want to go out with a big push.”

Rovers’ chances of advancing are improved by the recent capture of Australian half Josh Drinkwater, who impressed so much for Challenge Cup winners Catalans Dragons last term.

McGuire said “He’s a really good signing for us. With Bobby Blair and Matty Marsh leaving, we probably didn’t have any cover in the halves and I’ve always felt you need three really to compete.

“There’s myself and Chris Atkin who’s just had a brilliant year and now Drinkwater.

“We’ve a really big pack with Mitch Garbutt coming in so it’s exciting.”