Broncos enforcer unveils softer side
He may come across as aggressive, fiery and short-tempered on the field, but Broncos prop and Ken Stephen Medal finalist Josh McGuire has a softer side away from football that has helped him reach new heights in 2014.
McGuire is the Broncos' nominee for the Ken Stephen Medal to be presented at the annual NRL One Community Awards on September 25.
The medal recognises the off-field efforts of NRL players who are involved in charity projects within the local community and past winners since the awards' inception in 1988 include Johnathan Thurston, Sam Thaiday, Preston Campbell, Nathan Hindmarsh, Peter Sterling and inaugural winner Wayne Pearce.
The combination of a selfless attitude and recently becoming a father for the first time has spurred McGuire onto a higher level of performance this season.
The 24-year-old spoke to NRL.com ahead of Saturday night's elimination final in Townsville, discussing his award nomination, the birth of his daughter and how to stop the Cowboys star-studded forward pack.
"It's nice to get the recognition, but you don’t do that stuff hoping to win awards," McGuire said.
"It'll be a good night down in Sydney… It'll be nice to celebrate the contribution all the NRL players have been doing in the community. It's not about winning the medal, it's just nice to be nominated. You don’t do it for the awards – you do it to make a difference and to help somebody out.
"I've been lucky enough to have been involved with Ronald McDonald House for the last year and a half and I've been involved with a few other charities.
"I just give back where I can. I'm a big believer that if you're a good person, good things [will] happen."
Whether you're a believer in karma or not, McGuire's heavy contribution off the field has coincided with an improved performance on the playing arena and the statistics of the Broncos enforcer have increased handsomely as a result.
McGuire averaged 117 metres, 12 runs and 33 tackles from 19 games in 2013 and has upped those numbers to 131 metres, 14 hit-ups and 37 tackles from 23 games so far in 2014.
After beginning the early stages of his 112-game career playing from the bench, the Aspley junior now holds a mortgage over the Broncos' No.8 jersey and despite receiving the odd suspension here and there, has now established himself as Brisbane's frontline bookend.
It's been a whirlwind year for the man they call 'Moose' as he and fianceé Tanyssa celebrated the birth of their daughter Maiya in May, with the couple due to tie the knot in November.
On top of this McGuire was rewarded for his consistent form with a call up to the Maroons' squad for Origin III where he was named as 18th man.
A destructive and aggressive ball carrier on his day, the softly spoken McGuire credits his young family for his improved fortunes on the field.
"When you go to work you're always different at work than when you're at home, but having my little girl has been a Godsend and the happiest moment of my life was bringing her into this world," he said.
"I've enjoyed every second of it. I love being a dad and I love my fianceé; she's been awesome – she's a great mum and she makes my life easier with footy and training, so I can't thank those two enough for what they've done for my footy.
"[Maiya's] getting chubby now so hopefully she doesn’t end up looking like me! She looks a lot like her mum which is a good thing."
McGuire will need to strain every sinew in his 180-centimetre, 106-kilogram frame on Saturday night against a Cowboys pack containing the likes of Matt Scott, James Tamou, Jason Taumalolo, Gavin Cooper and the Sims brothers, Ashton and Tariq.
He'll have the chance to reignite his battle with ex-Bronco Ashton Sims, with the pair involved in a heated exchange in Brisbane's 16-12 win over the Cowboys in Round 2 after McGuire took out Robert Lui's legs directly after the Cowboys' half had kicked the ball.
When McGuire made his debut in Round 3, 2009, Sims was playing in the front row for the Broncos and although they've had an on-field confrontation in the past, getting into another scuffle with the experienced Cowboy isn't on the agenda for the Broncos prop.
"Penalties change games in today's game and you can't afford to react anymore," he said.
"[The Sims brothers] both play really tough footy and it is what it is. I'm sure it's going to be a fiery game, but I'm just excited about the challenge of playing some tough footy and getting the job done for my team.
"Line speed is the key and slowing the ruck down to our pace and playing fast when we've got the ball. It's a pretty simple game plan and just trying to shut down those forwards will be a job in itself, but I have all the confidence that our boys will go up there and play a good game of footy."