Off-the-cuff Brough remains the master of a dying art

Huddersfield Giants' Danny Brough (Picture: John Rushworth).
Huddersfield Giants' Danny Brough (Picture: John Rushworth).
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HEARING a Super League player discuss delivering “off-the-cuff” football and “playing what you see” is music to the ears of many.

It is refreshing that someone can still adhere to these principles in an era where completion rates and percentages so often reign.

It should be no surprise, either, that the player in mention is Huddersfield Giants’ stylish stand-off Danny Brough.

The Scotland captain has long been a trailblazer in Super League with his maverick talents producing moments of sheer magic, none more so than in 
2013 when earning the competition’s prestigious Man of Steel award.

Brough also picked up his 100th career try in Sunday’s 32-14 win over Hull KR, a notable feat in its own right.

However, it is, of course, his vast kicking skills for which he has become most renowned.

In that game against Rovers he produced two 40/20s – both looking effortless – before 
the 35th minute had even 
passed.

With six already this term, he is well on course to be Super League’s leading exponent of that difficult art for the fifth successive season.

Hull KR coach Chris Chester, who played alongside Brough when he was still honing his creative talent with Hull FC a decade ago, described him as the best kicking half in the competition “by a mile” after witnessing him destroy his side with a succession of varied attacking kicks.

Asked if that was his best kicking display for some time – the 32 year-old created two more tries with his cultured left boot and constantly had Rovers’ defence scrambling – Brough told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s a bit different. You come up against different teams each week that have different pendulums at the back.

“So, if I see space I’m going to kick it if it’s tackle two or tackle five.

“It’s pretty much playing what you see. If they (opposition back three) are not in position and I get a pretty good bounce it’s a 40/20.

“Or, if I see (Hull KR full-back) Ben Cockayne over-chasing I do a reverse kick and things like that.

“So, it is just playing off-the-cuff. And it made my afternoon pretty good on Sunday.”

Given his dynamism and longevity in the game – Brough first emerged as a brash teenager with hometown Dewsbury in 2002 – it is perhaps a surprise the former Castleford Tiger has not actually amassed more than his century of tries.

“I thought I might have done, to be honest,” conceded the player, who has been a seminal signing for Giants since joining from West Yorkshire neighbours Wakefield Trinity in 2010.

“But the legs are getting on a bit now so the support play is not as good.

“As for my best (try) I don’t remember most as most of them are that long ago!

“It is really pleasing, though, to get your own accolades with things like 100 tries. But, more than anything, I was over the moon just to get the win as it was a really good victory for us.”

The success sees Huddersfield strengthen their position as one of Super League’s in-form teams and sets them up perfectly for Friday’s televised visit to champions St Helens.

They will go above their second-placed rivals if they can secure another victory as the battle for top-four spots heats up with just three regular rounds remaining.

“It is getting tight up there,” admitted Brough, as Giants seek to at last make a maiden Super League Grand Final.

“Obviously, it’s a tough place to go and win Langtree Park.

“But we’re on a bit of a roll, too, enjoying our rugby, defending well, stopping teams beating 
us and that’s what we need to 
do.”

All of that is undoubtedly true, but allied with this man’s ingenuity, the chances of success are always far greater.