IT IS pleasing to know that not all of England’s finest players believe they have to head to the NRL to further their careers.
Hull KR’s Tyrone McCarthy announced last week that he is switching to St George Illawarra next season, a great move for him, joining former Warrington Wolves team-mate Mike Cooper, who has been at the Sydney club for the last two seasons.
It comes 12 months after another Rovers captain – Josh Hodgson – revealed he had signed for Canberra Raiders, following the likes of Burgess twins George and Tom, the hooker’s England team-mates, who have long been ingrained at South Sydney since departing Bradford Bulls.
However, Huddersfield Giants’ Leroy Cudjoe has revealed he, like Leeds Rhinos’ Kallum Watkins, turned down overtures from the Australian competition recently before re-signing with his hometown club last month.
The elegant centre, currently rediscovering some of the form that made him a star for England during the 2013 World Cup, hopes to achieve glory with Huddersfield instead.
They will take another significant step towards doing that tomorrow if they can defeat Warrington Wolves and build momentum, having already secured a top-four finish.
Despite finishing first two years ago, Huddersfield, of course, have yet to reach a Super League Grand Final, but they are quietly producing some football that suggests that glaring omission in their CV could be filled this term.
Cudjoe’s performances in recent weeks have certainly been excellent and, as he strives to regain the international jersey he lost last autumn, he told The Yorkshire Post: “I am happy with my form over the last month.
“What’s helped has been a change in our attack – I’m getting the ball more in space.
“My focus is doing well for Huddersfield and then, hopefully, if I’m doing that I won’t be too far away from England squad.
“It was fairly easy decision to remain here at Huddersfield. It’s my home-town club and I’ve been here all my career. I did have some interest from the NRL but I’m happy here with a young family and a club on the up so I’m happy with that decision.”
Cudjoe, 27, penned a deal until the end of 2020 with both him and coach Paul Anderson believing his best years are still ahead of him.
Before all that, however, comes the more pressing matter of tomorrow’s home game against Warrington Wolves, which Cudjoe describes as a “massive” contest for the Fartowners.
Giants have won their last three matches against Catalans, at champions St Helens and, most recently, the 40-26 victory over Castleford Tigers, which all but ended their West Yorkshire rivals’ hopes of making the top-four. Tigers’ loss to St Helens on Thursday confirmed the top four line-up.
Second-placed Wigan moved five points clear of Huddersfield last night with victory over Hull FC. Cudjoe insisted: “We’ve not really talked about it too much (reaching second).
“No doubt we would prefer a home (semi-final) tie but we just need to keep focused on the next game and take it week by week.
“Warrington are a very good side, they have international players all over the pitch so we will be expecting that side to turn up.
“We are preparing for a tough, physical game as it always is with them. But we are confident in performing well and getting the result we need.”
Warrington, for so long Huddersfield’s nemesis at this time of year, cannot qualify for the top-four with three rounds remaining but showed they are not easing up by destroying Hull FC 46-16 on Sunday.
Giants showed their own ruthless streak by running in four tries in just eight minutes while Castleford were down to 12 men last week.
“That game was very scrappy for us,” maintained Cudjoe.
“We didn’t start either half too well but showed when we turn it on we can score tries and defend well.
“We let in a few soft tries, too, which hasn’t happened much this year.
“If we can get back to our best in defence and keep improving our attack we will give ourselves a great shot.”
While Cudjoe is looking to add to his 10 caps this autumn, the man playing outside him on the right wing is looking to earn his first Test call-up.
Jermaine McGillvary, also a product of Huddersfield’s academy system, is in prolific form, having scored 21 tries this year, including seven in the last four games alone.
Cudjoe helped furnish the 27-year-old with a spectacular brace against Castleford and he has given his team-mate a glowing endorsement for international recognition.
“Jerry is a very good player who has played consistently at a high level this season,” he said.
“Some of the tries he’s scored have been world-class. But it’s not just the tries, he helps us as a team massively getting our sets started and, when he goes in helping in attack, it’s like having another forward on the field at times.
“I know if he got the chance to play for England he would kill it and, hopefully, we get to see that,” he said.
The Giants yesterday named the same 19-man squad whch beat Castleford last time out.