Leeds Rhinos legend and Castleford Tigers coach Danny McGuire on how rugby league has changed

Danny McGuire, 41, is one of the most successful rugby league players, winning eight Super League Championships at Leeds Rhinos, three Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenge trophies. He now coaches Castleford Tigers.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

What is your first Yorkshire memory?

I’m a born and bred Leeds lad and grew up in East End Park, really a stone’s throw from the city centre. I have clear memories of my primary school, All Saints in Richmond Hill, and then I went to Agnes Stewart School near St James’s Hospital.

I remember on Saturday mornings, having saved my pocket money, I’d go to Rawcliffe’s sports shop to buy a rugby ball, a cricket bat or a Leeds United or a Leeds Rhinos shirt. I was sport mad as a kid and started playing rugby league, aged six, at the East Leeds club.

Danny McGuire playing for Leeds Rhinos in 2017.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)Danny McGuire playing for Leeds Rhinos in 2017.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Danny McGuire playing for Leeds Rhinos in 2017. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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I’ve really happy memories of playing sport constantly and had very supportive parents who’d take me to training.

What’s your favourite part of Yorkshire?

I enjoy going to the East Coast to relax and escape. I like Filey, Whitby, Bridlington and Scarborough and taking my son, Louis, to the beach where we can kick a ball, and then we can enjoy fish and chips.

What is your favourite walk?

Danny would like to own Castle Howard, near York, for a day.Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.Danny would like to own Castle Howard, near York, for a day.Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.
Danny would like to own Castle Howard, near York, for a day.Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer, James Hardisty.

I enjoy going to Malham Cove. In fact, I like anywhere in the Dales and North Yorkshire. The other place where we like to walk is near the canal in Woodlesford, a village near Leeds, where we live.

What is your idea of a perfect day out or weekend away in Yorkshire?

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My wife, Lauren, and I are big fans of Betty’s in Harrogate and sometimes we go to the one in York. So, after a good breakfast there, we’d then go for a nice walk to walk the breakfast off. Another thought I have is going for a good Sunday roast in a country pub in the Dales.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

We are blessed to have everything within an hour’s drive or two. We have the best of both worlds in Yorkshire. Take Leeds. You have everything you want in the city centre… shops, bars and restaurants. And then you are a short drive away from York and Harrogate and the Dales, and when you think about it, the coast is not that far away. We have so many options here depending on what you want to do.

Which Yorkshire sportsman or woman, would you like to take out for lunch?

The Yorkshire and England cricketer Jonny Bairstow is a good friend of mine, but we don’t have much time together because he’s always off travelling with England. He used to come to the Rhinos to see us play. I am a big cricket fan and have always followed Jonny’s career since he started in the Yorkshire team in 2009. We are good pals.

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And which Yorkshire screen or stage star would you like to take out for dinner?

I love Game of Thrones and have followed it from start to finish, so I’m an admirer of Sean Bean from Sheffield. I’d take him to a Yorkshire pub for a pint and then something to eat.

Which other sports do you follow?

I love cricket and play for Allerton Bywater. I’m also a Leeds United supporter and watch them as much as possible.

Which part of Yorkshire would you like to own for the day?

It would be Castle Howard, so I could be a king or a lord for the day. I’d have servants and take it back centuries and have people running after me. It’d be nice for a day, but after a bit I’d get bored.

Who is the Yorkshire person you admire the most?

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I was lucky being a sporty kid to have such a supportive family, and one of my biggest supporters was my granddad who died 15 years or so ago. Harry McGuire was a big influence on me, pushing me into sport. He loved cricket and football.

Do you think Yorkshire has changed for the better or worse?

That’s a tough question and if I’m being honest a bit of both. Take my sport. Rugby league has changed hugely for the better in the last 20 years…more understanding about the importance of education for players, advice on what you do after playing, injury prevention, concussion, so there are lots of things making the game safer and better.

At times, though, I’m not so sure if it’s as good a spectacle. I played in a different era. I don’t think now you see as many characters and sometimes, it’s the fittest and strongest team that potentially wins the league rather than the most skilful.

What would you change in Yorkshire?

I’d like to encourage more kids to play sport because it can shape a person or a child. You get so many qualities from playing…health, hard work, teamwork and friendships. I wish more schools would play rugby league and you can have more fun playing than sitting inside playing on Xboxes or watching YouTube.

How much influence has Yorkshire had on your career?

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A lot. As regards my rugby career, I tried to follow on and off the field what I thought and think are Yorkshire traits-being humble, hardworking and honest.

What is your favourite restaurant?

It’s the Thai A Roy Dee on Vicar Lane in Leeds. It’s always busy and serves traditional Thai food. I’ve got good memories of holidays in Thailand and any time I’m feeling I need my fix of Thailand, we go there. This restaurant takes you back to that country when you eat their food. As a kid, it was meat and two veg, but now that I’m older, my taste buds have widened.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

We are lucky to have a nice butcher’s where we live in Woodlesford. It’s called Howgate and Farrar on Aberford Road, and while we have good supermarkets nearby, every so often it’s nice to treat yourself.

If a stranger came to Yorkshire and you had time to take that person to one place only, where would that be?

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I am born and bred a city boy, so I’d probably take them into Leeds. We’d have a look at the shops, have lunch and a couple of beers and if there’s a game on the telly, watch the rugby league. Then, if that person has time for another trip the next day, we’d have a lovely walk in the Dales.

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