McGuire blow for Leeds
Leeds Rhinos' hopes of reaching a second successive Grand Final have been dealt a body blow with the loss of record-breaker Danny McGuire through suspension.
The 29-year-old half-back has been handed a one-match ban, and a £300 fine, after being found guilty by the Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee of a reckless high tackle.
It means that McGuire, who was put on report for the tackle on Louis Anderson during the champions' 27-20 win over Catalan Dragons last Friday, will miss Friday's play-off semi-final against Wigan at the DW Stadium, although Leeds may appeal.
A Rhinos spokesman said McGuire, who pleaded not guilty, would make a decision in the morning on whether to appeal.
McGuire could have been handed a two-match ban after being charged by the RFL's match-review panel with a grade B offence so he will be available for the final if Leeds win at the DW Stadium.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott, who spoke on behalf of his player at the hearing, claimed it was a careless act and an "open-handed tackle" in an effort to prevent an offload by Anderson.
Although McGuire hit Anderson's head, McDermott argued that he was aiming for the ball and his arm would have made contact with the ball but for his opponent falling in the tackle.
The committee, chaired by high court judge Peter Charlesworth, ruled that the offence was at the lower end of reckless but merited a ban because direct contact was made with the head of the opponent.
McGuire, who served a one-match ban earlier this season for a dangerous tackle, broke former team-mate Keith Senior's all-time Super League record with his 200th try in the opening play-off win over Wakefield.
And he further demonstrated his importance to the Rhinos with the crucial try against the Catalans before clinching the win with a late drop goal.