THEY have fashioned a position where safety is now in their own hands while keeping the sport’s birthplace in Super League is also seen as “vital”, but Leroy Cudjoe concedes none of that will actually aid Huddersfield Giants’ fight.
The England centre scored the opening try in Sunday’s surprise 22-14 victory over Leeds Rhinos, a victory that has heightened hopes of claiming third place in the Qualifiers and retaining a Super League spot in 2017.
The picture is now clear; the West Yorkshire club must win their last match at Hull KR on Saturday to achieve their aim and avoid the potential calamity of the Million Pound Game.
The main problem, of course, is that their hosts know if they avoid defeat themselves they, instead, will take that invaluable third spot and leave Huddersfield to fight it out with either Salford Red Devils or Championship London Broncos in the sudden-death one-off fixture a week later.
Clearly it is a nervous time for all three Super League clubs involved in those machinations with Huddersfield, promoted in 2002, being the longest-serving top-flight side in that trio.
“Having Huddersfield in Super League is vital,” insisted Cudjoe, who has played more than 200 games for his hometown club.
“There’s so much history here and with it being the birthplace of rugby league it is key that we remain in the top division.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be handed to us on a plate; we’ve all got to work very hard for it because Hull KR are in the same position,too.
“Saturday is a massive game.”
Huddersfield, who finished bottom of Super League, have given themselves a lifeline after responding positively to the previous week’s 48-40 humiliation at Leigh Centurions.
They were 42-10 down by half-time as the Championship club secured a 17th consecutive win and promotion.
“We were all embarrassed after that Leigh game,” conceded Cudjoe.
“The review wasn’t pretty, but it was needed; we spoke about focusing on the processes we need to go through to give us our best chance of winning games, which against Leigh we didn’t.
“Those were errors that we can control: controlling the ruck and working hard for each other.
“So, the win against Leeds was massive for so many reasons.
“After that performance at Leigh we needed to make things right and put a performance in.
“Also, it meant automatic promotion was still in our hands so the win was even more important.”
It is still hard to accept it has come to this for Giants; they were in the Super League semi-finals last year and finished top in 2013.
It is widely felt that they have more ‘big-game’ players than their rivals from East Yorkshire with, particularly, former Man of Steel Danny Brough, prolific England winger Jermaine McGillvary and Cudjoe seen as dangers.
Cudjoe, 28, maintained: “I agree that we have a group of good players that know how to perform, but Hull KR do, too.
“Both teams just haven’t done it consistently this year, which is why we are where we are. But we’ve got a chance to claim that third spot and finish our season with Super League status.
“What we have to do is keep thinking about the process and not too much about the bigger picture. We all know how big the game is, but what we all need to do is prepare well and come Saturday be ready to go all out.”
Hull KR won 32-24 at part-timers Featherstone Rovers on Sunday and were far from their best.
However, they will see home advantage as key in their attempt to get the points they require.
Rovers defeated visiting Huddersfield 20-19 in July, but were easily beaten 38-6 at the John Smith’s Stadium in March.
“KR have lots of threats across the park,” admitted Cudjoe,
“Terry Campese is massive for them – he leads them round the field with good control – and Shaun Lunt is a great hooker who can hurt you, so we need to make sure we control the ball and the ruck.
“The comeback of JP (Hull KR head of rugby Jamie Peacock) out of retirement didn’t surprise me too much either.
“He’s one of those guys who will do anything for his club and he’s a great player, another one we need to keep an eye on.”
Cudjoe played alongside veteran prop Peacock for England so knows all about his strengths.
On the subject of England, there is a chance the Huddersfield centre could reclaim his own spot in the Four Nations.
He has not played for his country since a fine 2013 World Cup, but, despite his side’s erratic form, has been great this year.
Cudjoe has scored seven tries in his last four games alone, but insisted: “England isn’t on my mind at all, to be honest.
“I just want to do my best and help my hometown club keep Super League status whatever happens. Once that’s done, I will think about it then.”