Try-scoring record beckons for McGuire

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The Independent Online

So potent has been the form of Leeds' Danny McGuire so far this season that it would be a major surprise if he did not break one of Super League's longer established records this afternoon.

So potent has been the form of Leeds' Danny McGuire so far this season that it would be a major surprise if he did not break one of Super League's longer established records this afternoon.

It was in 1996, the first year of the summer competition that St Helens' Paul Newlove scored 28 tries over the season. McGuire's hat-trick against Saints last week equalled that tally and he still has eight matches to go, starting with today's meeting with Wakefield at Headingley.

This season has seen the fresh-faced young half-back develop from highly promising to being just about the most dangerous player in the British game. If his pace remains his outstanding attribute, he is starting to play with more cunning and with more all-round effect.

Last week, after the 70-0 thrashing of Saints, there were suggestions that he might be disappointed to have only scored three tries, but they were quickly jumped upon by his coach, Tony Smith, who pointed out the work he had done to enable others to score. "If he wasn't a team player, he probably wouldn't be in the team,'' he said.

In truth, McGuire will always be more effective as a scorer of tries than a creator of them. The player of the past he most resembles is Alan Hardisty, of Castleford, Leeds and Great Britain, who was often criticised for failing to control a game, but who would then cross the line to win it for his side.

In the absence of a player more in the classical mould, there is a growing feeling that McGuire, with his youthful enthusiasm and predator's instincts, will be Great Britain's best bet in the Tri- Nations this autumn.

Should he break Newlove's record by 10 tries or so, as he well might, it would be difficult to leave him out. Mind you, he is not even guaranteed to be Super League's leading try scorer.

For Bradford's Lesley Vainikolo has already scored 25 and can be relied upon to pursue McGuire to the end. If McGuire is the sniper then Vainikolo is the heavy artillery, his pace allied to his size and power. Many of his tries come not from gliding around opponents like the Leeds stand-off, but trampling over them.

Vainikolo will be in action for the Bulls at Hull today, in a match that they must win if they are to sustain their hopes of finishing in the top two.

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