Super League: Leeds Rhinos' Danny McGuire bullish ahead of 2014 season
Leeds' Danny McGuire is determined to return to his best form in 2014 following a trophyless season with the Rhinos.
Last Updated: 04/10/13 6:08pm
Brian McDermott's men finished third in the Super League table but the champions failed to win silverware after losing the World Cup Challenge to the Melbourne Storm, crashing out of the Challenge Cup to the Huddersfield Giants and losing last Friday's qualifying semi-final to the Wigan Warriors.
McGuire endured a spell on the sidelines in 2013 after breaking his leg in an away defeat at Hull FC and the 30-year-old believes a strong pre-season will put him in good stead for next year.
Rising star Liam Sutcliffe deputised superbly in McGuire's absence, although the Leeds stalwart has rubbished suggestions it is time for him to move on and give youth a chance.
"I need a full pre-season to get myself ready for 2014," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. "I am determined to have a big season next year.
"I know a few people are already saying it might be time to move on and get some of the younger lads in, but I am dead set on proving I am not past it yet and I have still got a lot to offer.
"I am confident in my own ability and I am determined to be one of the form half-backs in the competition again next year."
McGuire is taking the positives from the Super League campaign despite Leeds' inability to reach a major final for the first time since the 2006 season.
The Rhinos were dumped out of the play-offs by Wigan 22-12 last week and while McGuire has been pleased with Leeds' consistency this season, he felt their defeat the DW Stadium was a bridge too far.
"It has been a disappointing campaign in terms of the end result, but on the other hand there have been so many positives to come out of it," he added.
"Not reaching either of the major finals isn't good enough for a club like Leeds Rhinos and it's not what we expect of ourselves.
"That's the disappointing part of it, but then you look at the challenges we've faced and all the obstacles and setbacks we've had to overcome and I think actually a lot of aspects of the year have been very encouraging.
"The big plus is the number of young lads who have had a go in the first team and also the way they've not only coped with it, but actually stood out and exceeded expectations.
"The experience they've gained this year, in difficult circumstances, really will stand them in good stead in the years to come.
"Overall, we've been more consistent and we've gone up a couple of places in the league table to third, which is more like where we should be finishing - though we'd have liked to be even higher.
"But at the end of the day we just ran out of gas. We were a bit bruised and battered, we were carrying players who weren't fully fit or were still working their way back from injury and it was a bridge too far."