It would not, admittedly, be most neutrals’ idea of a fairytale. But for Danny McGuire victory in the Super League Grand Final this Saturday would be the perfect way to end his Leeds Rhinos career, even if it would also deny Castleford Tigers a first league title in their 91-year history.
This weekend’s Old Trafford showpiece will be McGuire’s last game for the club he first joined at the age of 12, and the Leeds captain is desperate to win an eighth Grand Final ring before joining Hull Kingston Rovers next season. “That’s the dream, the fairytale ending of my Leeds career,” he said. “It’s going to be a really emotional week.”
Managing emotions, of course, is McGuire’s speciality. It was in 2015 that Leeds pipped Wigan Warriors 22-20 to win the Grand Final in what would be Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock’s last game. McGuire won the Harry Sunderland trophy in that match, and with he and Rob Burrow both now poised to make their swansong, he believes that experience will stand them in good stead against a side that has beaten them four times in the regular season.
“We all knew it was going to be their last game,” McGuire said. “That obviously added incentive to send them out on a high. It will be unbelievable if my Leeds career could finish like that, and I will be working as hard as possible to make that happen.
“I am determined to enjoy it and keep everything in check and make sure my preparation is right for Saturday night,” McGuire said. “It’s a great stadium to play at, the atmosphere is unbelievable and we have won a few times here. Castleford have been the best team in the competition all year, so it is going to take a fair effort to win. But we’ve put ourselves in a position to do that.”
Castleford have been this season’s outstanding team, winning the League Leaders’ Shield, and finishing 10 points clear of Leeds after the Super 8 stage.
The side have won numerous plaudits and fans with their expansive, attractive style of rugby. But Tigers coach Daryl Powell said it would all be for naught unless they emerged with victory on Saturday night.
“I’m not really bothered who are favourites,” said Powell, who played for Leeds in the inaugural Grand Final in 1998. “It’s just toilet roll, really. It’ll get flushed away and mean nothing.”