Danny McGuire is a name known throughout rugby league due to his personal success as Super League’s record try scorer and Leeds Rhinos’ exploits. Last Word on Rugby League writer Sam Harris profiles the great man.
Danny McGuire: promise as a youngster
McGuire was a talented scrum-half and started his foray into rugby league at local side East Leeds and it was clear he had a impressive future ahead.
Breakthrough at Headingley
After impressing in the academy, McGuire made his senior Leeds bow during the 2001 campaign as a teenager, making three appearances.
He earnt further game time the following year and scoring his first tries for his hometown side, his real breakthrough came in 2003.
Leeds had a successful season finishing second but losing in the play-off semi-final and the scrum-half made his mark, scoring 15 tries in 29 matches as he cemented his place as a first-team regular.
Danny McGuire’s fourth campaign at Headingley, was arguably his best ever as he crossed for a remarkable 36 tries as Leeds claimed the league leaders title.
Things got even better for the scrum-half as Leeds advanced to a Grand final meeting against Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls and he had the final say, diving over late on to seal the Rhinos’ first title for 32 years.
An Old Trafford Hero
Throughout his career, McGuire was known for playing his best rugby on the biggest stages, highlighted with two Harry Sunderland awards for man-of-the-match in the Grand Final, one of only three men to do so.
He grabbed another Old Trafford try in the Rhinos’ defeat to Bradford in 2005 before going one better in 2008 but scoring a couple of crucial second-half four-pointers as Leeds beat St Helens 24-16.
In 2015 McGuire was part of an all-conquering Rhinos side who claimed the treble of league leaders, Challenge Cup and Grand Final for the first time, capping this historic achievement with another double in a win over Wigan.
A fitting farewell was in store for the halfback in 2017 as Leeds returned to Old Trafford following a disappointing season after their treble win.
Controlling the game from start to finish, McGuire again grabbed a brace and added a drop-goal to mark his final match for his beloved club with an eighth Grand Final triumph, over Castleford Tigers.
Super League Try-scoring Record
During his career, Danny McGuire has developed his game, starting as an elusive support runner before becoming more of an organising half in the latter stages.
However one aspect that never changed was his try-scoring prowess, with his best season coming in 2004, finishing as the second top try-scorer behind rampaging Bradford winger Lesley Vainikolo.
Remaining consistent until his Leeds career worn down, McGuire became the first player to score 200 Super League tries, overtaking teammate Keith Senior in 2012.
With this try, he became the league’s all-time try scorer and upon leaving the Rhinos had scored 238 times in the competition.
He extended this record after his move to Hull Kingston Rovers in 2017, notching his first Robins’ hat-trick against Huddersfield in 2018.
When he announced his retirement in 2019, the mercurial talent had scored 247 tries.
World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup
As well as in the English game, McGuire also made his mark against the best that their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand had to offer.
The first opportunity to test himself against the NRL sides first presented itself in 2005.
After his match-winning score in the previous season’s showpiece, McGuire and his Leeds teammates faced NRL premiers Canterbury Bulldogs in the annual World Club Challenge.
Held at Elland Road, the Leeds-born star capped off a fine night by scoring a fine individual try as the Rhinos became world champions for the first time.
In contrast, the Rhinos had struggled for silverware in the domestic cup competition, having not been victorious at Wembley since 1999, before the halfback had even burst onto the scene.
By the time 2014 came around, McGuire had suffered four Challenge Cup final defeats including three in a row from 2010.
It was no surprise that the halfback ensured that long wait would be ended against fellow Yorkshire side Castleford Tigers.
His first act was to collect a high Rob Burrow kick and dive over for, remarkably, his maiden Wembley try before a late drop-goal allowed the Headingley faithful to saviour their achievement in the last few minutes.
After a 15-year wait for cup success, Leeds would only have to wait a further 12 months for more cup glory.
In the first part of their historic treble the Rhinos thrashed Hull Kingston Rovers 50-0 with the halfback making it tries in successive Wembley appearances.
Danny McGuire: Rugby League Icon
Throughout his career Danny McGuire was respected by fans and players alike with his natural talent and leadership clear to see.
His name will be forever associated with Leeds Rhinos and fondly remembered at Hull Kingston Rovers but also the wider game as a whole.
A man for the big occasion, McGuire showed excellent game management skills in taking Leeds to eight Super League titles and two Challenge Cups and his outstanding try-scoring record may never be beaten.
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