McGuire hopes for World Cup spot
Danny McGuire is hoping a first full off season for 12 years will help him reclaim his England place in World Cup year.
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The 30-year-old Leeds half-back, who won the last of his seven England caps against Australia in 2009, was in line to return for the autumn internationals after a record-breaking season with the Super League champions.
But, along with St Helens hooker James Roby, he asked national coach Steve McNamara not to be considered and says the break has done him the world of good.
"It was just to refresh myself and I've come back hungrier," he said.
"I've done something at the end of the year ever since 2000, whether it's with England Under-21s or Great Britain.
"I think it did me good and hopefully it will stand me in good stead for a big season. It gave me chance to sort out a few niggles and have a break.
"I still have ambitions to get back involved with England. It's all building nicely for the World Cup and I hope we can make it a tournament to remember.
"I think we've got 35 players capable of being involved but hopefully I can put myself in the frame."
McGuire, who played in the last World Cup in 2008, knows he is facing tough competition in his bid to reclaim his international jersey.
Leeds team-mate Kevin Sinfield looks to have nailed down the number six spot, although Melbourne-based Gareth Widdop will be hoping to have a say on that before October.
McNamara used Rangi Chase and Richie Myler at scrum-half in the autumn internationals and Danny Brough, Jonny Lomax and Luke Gale will all be vying with McGuire to provide further competition for the number seven shirt.
Now in his 13th season with the Rhinos, McGuire is celebrating his testimonial with a match against Bradford at Headingley on Sunday but plans to remain at the top of the game for a few more years yet.
"I've signed a new three-year contract and I still feel relatively good," he said.
"If I look after myself, there is no reason why I can't go on for a few more years yet. I'm fortunate to be with a good club who look after us."
The champions are this week honing their preparations for the new season with a warm-weather training camp in Portugal, having escaped the latest wintry blast in England.
"It couldn't have come at a better time," admitted McGuire. "We've had a good couple of days training so far.
"The complex is good and we're spending quality time together. It's all about fine-turning. We can get plenty of skills work done and work on partnerships and things like that."
Leeds coach Brian McDermott will field a full-strength side against Bradford, with the exception of Stevie Ward who is recovering from a shoulder injury, for their last warm-up game before they launch the defence of their crown against Hull on February 1.
McDermott is hoping for a bumper turn-out on Sunday to reward one of the club's greatest servants.
"Danny will go down as one of Leeds' all-time great players," he said.
"It's a chance to recognise the service he has given to Leeds and I hope the fans turn out in force.
"He's had a remarkable career and he hasn't finished yet."
McGuire, who became Super League's leading tryscorer when he went over for his 200th touchdown in the opening round of the play-offs last September, won his sixth Grand Final a month later and believes the Rhinos are looking good to complete a second hat-trick of titles in seven years.
"I think we're looking very good this year," he said.
"We've strengthened and the new lads have come in and fitted in really well.
"They've added something to the team and the younger lads are putting pressure on us older guys as well."