Danny McGuire agrees to new Hull KR role ruling out Leeds Rhinos return

IT was relative minutiae compared to the headline news of his appointment as Hull KR’s new head of recruitment.

Danny McGuire.
Danny McGuire.

However, the added detail that Danny McGuire will also coach the club’s half-backs from next season is perhaps the most crucial of all.

Great players do not always make great coaches, as has been proven many times in the past.

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However, it would seem madness not to let one of Super League’s greatest-ever playmakers pass on his expertise in some way when he does finally hang up his boots at the end of the season.

It is encouraging then to see McGuire will get to do just that at KCOM Craven Park in 2020.

On the flip side it will be a blow for his former club Leeds Rhinos who, it is thought, were keen to bring him home to Headingley next season in some capacity.

Such is McGuire’s enduring talent on the field they actually hoped to get the 36-year-old back as a player this term to bring some much-needed calm and authority as they battle at the foot of the table.

Rovers, who signed the former Great Britain star from Leeds after he had won an eighth Grand Final with his hometown club in 2017, would never have let that happen given they are in that same fight themselves; McGuire’s experience and guile will be crucial in the months – and now years – ahead.

The East Yorkshire club also announced last night that Nick Scruton, the 34-year-old prop who won two of those Grand Finals alongside McGuire at Leeds, had been forced into retirement due to a shoulder injury that has sidelined him since last September.

Fellow front-row Lee Jewitt, who has managed just three games this term, has also left Rovers and is taking an “extended break” on medical grounds.

Finding props then could be high up on McGuire’s ‘to-do’ list when he takes up his new role as head of recruitment although it is likely Rovers – struggling in 11th – will look to strengthen swiftly.

He said: “I’m really excited and looking forward to a new challenge. I’ve only ever played rugby league so I’m excited for the next chapter in my life.

“I’m really grateful to Neil Hudgell (chairman) and Mike Smith (CEO) for the opportunity.

“It’s something I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into.

“I’ve been speaking to the club for a few months now. Since announcing my retirement I’ve been planning for the future and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

“I was keen to stick around in a role and this one came around.

“Recruitment is going to be the main focus, but I’m also going to be doing some work with the half-backs in coaching, the academy and the commercial department.

“It’s a really rounded role and as a player, to get an opportunity like this when you’re finished, there’s not many jobs out there like it so I jumped at the chance.”

His former Rhinos team-mate Jamie Peacock arrived at KR following his own retirement in 2015 and operated as head of rugby.

He was key in bringing McGuire to the club, but left the role at the end of last season.

McGuire – who scored 267 tries in 416 games for Leeds after debuting in 2001 – will now look to take up some of those responsibilities and help Smith put together future squads.

He added: “It’s nice to know there’s something there secure for me after retirement.

“But what I’d like to say is that my main focus is on playing – my performances on the field – because that’s what I’m getting paid for at the minute. My sole focus is on getting myself right, and the week-to-week performances. That’s definitely not going to get neglected, but you always have to plan for your future.

“I’ve been doing that quietly and the club is already preparing for 2020 behind the scenes, and whilst the job doesn’t officially start until December I’ll be getting involved before then.”

Scruton came through the Academy ranks at hometown Leeds and won the 2008 World Club Challenge against Melbourne Storm.

He went on to make more than 100 appearances for Bradford Bulls before a fine three-year stint with Wakefield Trinity, joining the Robins in 2017.

“Obviously it’s pretty devastating, the thought of not ever playing rugby ever again,” he said.

“It’s been a big part of my life for a long time, and it will be hard to get my head around. But it’s for the best and on the surgeon’s advice it was my time to call it quits.”

Former Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils forward Jewitt, who played in the 2014 Challenge Cup final for Castleford Tigers, joined Rovers in 2017 after a brief spell in Australia.

He was contracted for 2020, but had come to a mutual agreement with the club having struggled with a concussion problem.

“I’ve been working over the last five or six years doing different courses on counselling, sports psychology, mental health and welfare.,” said Jewitt, who has not yet decided to retire.

“It’s my passion, and I’d love to work in sport and particularly rugby league. My door is open.”