Josh McGuire: Warrington Wolves' ice man cometh for the 2023 Super League season
New Warrington signing Josh McGuire has made a big impact during his rugby league career, but ice hockey was his first sporting love; the Wolves kick off the 2023 Betfred Super League season against Leeds Rhinos live on Sky Sports on Thursday, February 16
Last Updated: 03/12/22 6:59am
When it comes to sports you would most associate with Australia, it is likely ice hockey would feature quite a way down the list – if at all.
Yet had things worked out differently, the rinks of North America may well have been where new Warrington Wolves signing Josh McGuire was plying his trade as a professional sportsman rather than the NRL and now the Betfred Super League.
It was during a period living in Lismore, New South Wales, that a young McGuire first strapped on his skates and was later scouted to potentially go on trial with NHL side Vancouver Canucks. However, taking up rugby league at the age of 14 soon gave him a new sporting direction.
"It all kind of started as seasonal," McGuire told Sky Sports about how he got into ice hockey. "I played baseball as well, so that was the outdoor sport and hockey was the indoor sport.
"I left hockey and then started playing rugby league at school and transitioned that way.
"I think the physicality and the leg speed kind of thing helped, but it was a pretty fast and aggressive sport, so much of a muchness.
"When you're a little kid you just want to get amongst it with the lads, so it is what it is."
Despite being a relatively late starter in rugby league, McGuire showed enough of an aptitude for the sport to be signed up by home city club Brisbane Broncos, progressing through their U20 set-up and representing Queensland at age-group level before making his NRL debut in 2009.
Since then, the forward has gone on to play for North Queensland Cowboys and St George Illawarra Dragons too, as well as represent the full Queensland team 14 times in State of Origin and earn eight caps for Australia.
The 32-year-old is now following in the footsteps of one of his childhood heroes in moving to Warrington, with Adrian Morley having spent seven successful seasons at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after signing from Sydney Roosters, and McGuire is full of respect for what the recent Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee achieved.
"Moz was probably one of my favourite players growing up," McGuire said. "I don't know about emulating what he's done in the game because he's a special player and, in my opinion, probably one of the greatest modern-era forwards to have played.
"If I can come here and have a positive impact on this group and this club, if I can leave this place a better place than it was like when I got here, then that's a good thing.
"It was the way he went about his business. Everyone talks about what he was like on the field, but off the field he was a very humble, nice man who trained hard and did his job. I don't think I've ever heard a person say a bad word about him from within his football teams."
McGuire had initially been in discussions with St George Illawarra about extending his stay there for 2023 along with offers from other NRL clubs being on the table, and although he had hoped to play in Super League one day, he did not expect it to come when it did.
It was during the NRL's Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in May he bumped into Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick, and it was an encounter which set the wheels in motion for him joining the Wolves on a two-year contract.
"It was a chance meeting," McGuire recalled. "I was having a coffee with somebody else at the Magic round and bumped into Karl Fitzpatrick and [Wolves director] Mike Lomax. We got chatting, one thing led to another and our ideas and thoughts on football aligned.
"He didn't really have to sell it too much because I already had a fair idea, but you want to be surrounded by good people and Karl is one of those good people who loves the club and has all the right intentions.
"All he wants is to see his players and this club have success, and there are a lot of good people in the background here who want the same thing. No-one is happy with what happened last year and it's a very hungry group at the moment."
McGuire is one of two big-name NRL forwards joining the Wolves for 2023 along with former Dragons team-mate Paul Vaughan as Daryl Powell's side aim to rebound from a hugely disappointing year which saw them finish 11th in Super League.
But while it is the rugby which has brought McGuire to his shores, he and his wife and three children are finding plenty to engage them off the field as well.
"My kids are loving school; we've been here a couple of weeks now and are really loving the lifestyle," McGuire said.
"The people here have been fantastic, it's so diverse culturally, and the history of being in England - it's a lot older than Australia, obviously. You have buildings here older than our country, so it's nice and culturally pretty fulfilling.
"I think it's important for my kids. When they're a bit older at high school wherever they are, they'll be able to say they've been here, done that, and seen that. It's enriching for them to have these life experiences growing up."