McGuire is undoubtedly a key player for the Rhinos, and like the long term loss of Matt Diskin, his absence will be a concern to coaching staff and supporters alike. But while the Rhinos are a stronger side with Danny in the thirteen, his injury doesn't mean that we'll start to plummett down the league...far from it.|
This absence seems to have been long planned by McGuire and Tony Smith. The WCC, and two tough openers against Hull and Saints all navigated successfully, the Rhinos now enter a relatively quiet period. So called, easier games against Widnes, Huddersfield, Warrington, Salford and Wakefield are punctuated only by a tough visit to Odsal on Easter Thursday. McGuire should be fit for the opening round of the Challenge Cup on the Week beginning 4th April, although Smith will only risk him if it turns out to be a difficult looking tie.
Where we've lost Danny, there are newer and younger fruits of the Rhinos youth policy waiting to be picked. Initially I believe that Burrow will step up into the scrum-half slot with Dunemann being forced to play the full eighty, switching with the 'pocket rocket' at hooker. Waiting on the sidelines are 2004 Academy Player of the Season Lee Smith and Scott Murrell.
Smith showed up well in pre-season games when covering for Richie Mathers at full-back, and after Richies poor game against Saints, Lee must be close to getting the nod. Scott Murrell is another exciting Rhinos prospect who could use McGuires enforced absence to lay claim to a half-back position. He's returned to the Leeds fold after an impressive loan period with the Broncos last year. I'd feel more comfortable with a long-term half-back partnership between McGuire and Murrell, rather than McGuire and Burrow.
Dannys most likely return will be again the Broncos at Headingley on the 9th April, until then his able deputies will ensure that the Rhinos stay in the running for the top spot in Superleague.