Leeds Rhinos skipper Danny McGuire hopes to make his comeback in Saturday’s match at Featherstone Rovers.
McGuire has missed three games due to a foot injury, which was the latest in a series of setbacks this year.
The half-back has played only 10 competitive games in 2016 and admitted he is “desperate” to be fit for Rhinos’ opening First Utility Qualifiers fixture and their battle against relegation.
“I am hoping to play on Saturday,” McGuire confirmed.
“I’ve still got a few things I need to do this week. It has been a bit more annoying than I thought it was going to be, the injury.
“I did it in the first half of the Widnes game. I managed to play the rest of the game and obviously didn’t think it was anything too serious, but it is hanging around a bit. Hopefully I can get a bit more done this week because I am desperate to get back out there playing. It has been a frustrating time.”
Last week’s break, for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals, gave McGuire extra time to recover. He said: “I have done a couple of running sessions. I need to do a bit more and then get involved with the team towards the back end of this week if I’ve got a chance of playing. I am hoping I can do that and I can get back in there and start doing a bit of training with the lads.”
Rhinos have seven games to preserve their Super League status and Saturday’s opener is a must-win if they are to avoid being dragged into the sudden-death million pound game, or automatic relegation. McGuire added: “It’s a really crucial period for us now. In a weird kind of way it is an exciting time.
“It is not where we want to be, but we have to make sure we’re ready and prepared for what’s going to be a tough seven weeks.
“We know everyone’s going to want to knock Leeds off. That goes without saying so we need to make sure we are ready, prepared and do everything possible to make sure we put ourselves in the best position to win.”
Featherstone were fourth in the Kingstone Press Championship and are the lowest-ranked team in the Qualifiers, but McGuire insisted: “We are professional enough to realise anything can happen on any given day.
“There are some good players in those [Championship] teams.
“Look at the Featherstone team, they’ve got a lot of experienced ex-Super League players and London are the same.
“I don’t think there will be any players within our camp taking anybody lightly. We will make sure we are ready and prepared.”
McGuire’s only previous game for Leeds at Big Fellas Stadium, as Post Office Road is now known, was in an academy fixture around 15 years ago.
He said: “All the junior finals used to be there when I was younger. I’ve played there a few times and it’ll be good to go back.
“It’s an old fashioned ground with a good atmosphere and it’ll be something different.”