Huddersfield have confirmed one of the sport’s worst-kept secrets – pivotal Castleford Tigers prop Craig Huby has signed a long-term contract with the Giants and will move across West Yorkshire at the end of the season
Given his own decorated playing career in the same position, Huddersfield head coach Paul Anderson, the ex-Bradford Bulls, St Helens and Great Britain forward, certainly knows a decent front-row when he sees one.
He admits being a “long-time admirer” of Huby’s talents but it does not take anyone of great rugby league knowledge to see the player is one of the finest exponents of his art in Super League.
The 28-year-old, who hopes to make his England debut in the forthcoming Four Nations, is one of the main reasons behind Castleford’s superb campaign so far.
He helped them reach the Challenge Cup final and, if his future employers defeat leaders St Helens tomorrow night, Huby could become part of the first-ever Castleford side to finish top if they then prosper at Catalan Dragons on Saturday evening.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, who won the League Leaders’ Shield last season, hope to push on and reach a maiden Grand Final in the coming weeks.
Regardless, securing Huby on a four-year deal will definitely aid their hopes of becoming an established force in future seasons.
Although they are well-served by ex-England prop Eorl Crabtree and Wales captain Craig Kopczak, State of Origin front-row Antonio Kaufusi has struggled to impress in his first season at John Smith’s Stadium following his switch from London Broncos.
The jury is still out, too, on Anthony Mullally, the 23 year-old who, like Kaufusi, spent time on loan at Bradford Bulls this term.
Huby, though, is a different matter entirely; having spent all his career at his hometown club, he is an established forward of some repute.
Indeed, it is a surprise Leeds Rhinos did not try for his services, too, given the expected retirement of Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai at the end of 2015.
Strong, powerful and with a footballing brain as well, Huby’s offloads have proved a scourge of defences for years and, if not for a serious knee injury in 2011, he would surely have already made his international bow.
Anderson admitted: “Craig is having a stellar season and is a player I have long admired.
“His qualities are there for all to see and he has been a tower of strength for the Castleford club which he has served with such distinction over many years.
“He will bring new attributes to our forward pack which will complement many of the players around him.
“When I heard he was looking for a fresh challenge I made him my number one target for next season. I’m delighted he has chosen our club ahead of many others and we look forward to welcoming him for pre-season training in November.”
Huby has missed the last two games since Castleford’s Wembley defeat to Leeds due to problems with the elbow he dislocated in their semi-final win over Widnes Vikings.
He returns to their squad for the trip to France, though, along with Grant Millington, and said: “I have had a wonderful time at Castleford with this year being an obvious highlight and it is with some sadness that I move on.
“However, I decided a fresh start and new challenge would reinvigorate me and the club have known for some time I’d be moving on. The supporters have always been superb with me and I thank them and the players and coaches I have worked with.
“This year with Darryl will forever be in my memory and I think we still have a great opportunity here in the coming weeks.
“That’s my sole focus but I wanted the news to come out so I can concentrate on the rest of the season with Cas then look forward to next year at the Giants,” he said.
Since making his debut as a 16-year-old at Leeds Rhinos in 2003, Huby has gone on to make more than 200 appearances for Castleford, earning vast praise from the club’s fans for his unstinting work in the middle whether defence – where he possesses a fearsome hit – or attack.
He is their longest-serving player and celebrated his testimonial last year but will look to take his game to new levels again with the Fartowners.
Huby adds to the growing contingent of Castlefordians in Huddersfield’s pack given his former Tigers team-mate Brett Ferres plus hooker Kyle Wood and second-row Larne Patrick all hail from the town like Anderson.
Furthermore, stand-off Danny Brough is another ex-Castleford colleague although the Huddersfield captain, crucially perhaps, misses his first game of the season tomorrow night.
Despite completing the game, he suffered an injury in Sunday’s 38-28 win over Hull FC and rushed off to hospital afterwards.
Anderson is also without Crabtree but England centre Leroy Cudjoe is fit again while Kaufusi could feature and young prop Josh Johnson is added to the 19-man squad.