Leeds captain Danny McGuire believes his clubs early exit from the Challenge Cup could prove to be a blessing in disguise as they look to start their climb up the Super League ladder. James Daniels Bears Jersey . The Rhinos ailing fortunes hit rock bottom with their 36-22 sixth-round defeat at Huddersfield last Friday but, after playing virtually every week of the season during their two-year Cup reign, it will at least offer them some respite with three blank weekends to come over the next three months.Maybe that is a little bit of a blessing, said McGuire, who is expected to return from injury to lead the side against Castleford at Headingley on Thursday, live on Sky Sports 3 HD from 7.30pm. We can get a couple of weekends off here and there and rest players and focus on the league competition.Wed still love to be in the Challenge Cup because we know how special it is, but its not to be this year so we have to focus on playing well in the league.McGuires sentiments are echoed by his long-serving team-mate Rob Burrow, who is one of only three ever-presents in Leeds injury-ravaged season so far. Although were sitting bottom of the league, we still feel were capable of a good run. Danny McGuire The cup is a real distraction, he said. Weve enjoyed being involved with that and wed love to have been there again this year but weve got to forget about that now.We need to put all our eggs in the one basket and climb up the league and get into that top eight.We say it every week that we need to do it quick because the games are running out. Jake Webster scored twice in Castlefords win over Leeds on March 24 If the bottom-of-the-table reigning champions are to reach the Super 8s, Castleford are one of the teams they will need to overtake.The Tigers are five points ahead in eighth spot and although they have lost their last three league games, they bounced back to form with an impressive 32-18 Cup win over Salford last week and have their sights set on completing the double over their neighbours following their 18-14 win at the Jungle at Easter.Cas are a great side and they did really well at the weekend with some halves who dont usually play there, said Burrow. Theyre winning with injuries and were not. Castleford head coach Daryl Powell talks to Sky Sports about the season so far McGuire, who has missed Leeds last four matches with a nagging calf injury, insists spirits remain high at Headingley despite their troubles on the pitch.The mood is good to be honest, he said. Its tough when youre not winning and youre not playing well.It can be a tough environment to be around. But weve got a good set of lads in this team, all pulling in the right direction.Although were sitting bottom of the league, we still feel were capable of a good run. We just need to get some consistency and pick up some wins and then see where we are after 23 rounds. Highlights of Castlefords victory over Leeds earlier this season Castleford will give a debut to winger Paddy Flynn, who has joined them on loan from Widnes, and have full-back Luke Dorn and acting captain Luke Gale back from injury.Loose forward Nathan Massey has been included in coach Daryl Powells initial squad despite dislocating a kneecap in the win over Salford.Leeds Rhinos: Mitch Achurch, Luke Briscoe, Rob Burrow, Adam Cuthbertson, Brett Ferres, Keith Galloway, Mitch Garbutt, Ashton Golding, Ash Handley, Zak Hardaker, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Jimmy Keinhorst, Jordan Lilley, Danny McGuire, Anthony Mullally, Brad Singleton, Liam Sutcliffe, Josh Walters, Kallum Watkins.Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Paddy Flynn, Luke Gale, Lee Jewitt, Will Maher, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Larne Patrick, Gadwin Springer, Denny Solomona, Danny Tickle, Jake Webster.Watch Leeds v Castleford live on Sky Sports 3 HD on Thursday from 7.30pm. 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Augustin scored 27 points in a start for Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson matched a career high with 26 filling in for Carlos Boozer as the Bulls improved to 7-2 since trading the popular Deng with a 98-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.The last time Rory MacDonald fought in Vancouver, things didnt exactly go as planned. The B.C. native immediately turned heads in a thrilling bout with future interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit at UFC 115 in 2010. Though MacDonald was ahead on the judges scorecards going into the final round, he succumbed to Condits relentless ground-and-pound with only seven seconds left on the clock. While he may have come out on the losing end that night, MacDonalds performance established him as a young fighter to watch. Over the past four years hes largely lived up to the hype, making the leap from prospect to contender. Now that hes poised to make his Vancouver return against Tyron Woodley in the co-main event of UFC 174 Saturday, MacDonald said he has grown both as a fighter and a person. "I was an inexperienced fighter at that point, it was a very big fight and I got a lot of response (from fans)," said MacDonald of his bout with Condit. "So it was a tough, but good learning experience for me as a martial artist and a UFC fighter to deal with that pressure and perform under it. "Since then Ive had a lot of big fights. Ive been able to deal with it great since then. So I see no difference going back there and fighting there again." Though MacDonald has since etched his spot in the welterweight title picture, consistency has been a problem. If he has struggled in one area, its been the frequency within which hes competed. Since joining the UFC roster in early 2010, hes managed only two fights per year due to a variety of injuries. MacDonald has attributed many of these to over-training and not knowing when to dial back his efforts. However, MacDonald appears to have found his groove as of late. His scrap with Woodley not only marks his second of 2014, but also his fourth in the past 12 months. MacDonald said hes finally hit thhe right balance. Taylor Gabriel Bears Jersey. "In a years time Ive been very busy and Ive been focused," MacDonald said. "My trainings been good. Ive been training very smart and been able to stay healthy. Obviously there are some injuries that are out of your control, but others are in your control and I think its just up to your experience as a martial artist. You know, growing up in your training and seeing what works for you. Im starting to figure out a rhythm that works for me. "I understand how to warm my body up, how to spar more technically and put less stress on my system. Its been a combination of a lot of things." MacDonald said a big piece of the puzzle has also been separating east coast from west coast. While in Montreal and New York, hes 100 - percent focused on training. However, after each fight, he spends time with family and friends back in B.C. The Tristar fighter said this allows him to recharge his batteries. "I take a month back home after my fights," MacDonald stated. "After all the hard training, I relax, but I also stay busy and stay active. I go into the gyms where I used to train with all the people that I know. I work with them — nothing crazy; just once a day. I spend my time there and enjoy it with family. It makes me happy. When I come out to Montreal and New York, I focus on my training and I feel energized." With his training formula firmly in place, MacDonald said he cant wait to put on a show in his home province. "It feels great," MacDonald began. "I love fighting in Canada and being in Vancouver is even better because after the fight Im right at home. 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