Castleford Tigers v Huddersfield Giants: Patience is finally paying off for Leroy Cudjoe

Giants' Leroy Cudjoe.Giants' Leroy Cudjoe.
Giants' Leroy Cudjoe.
FIT-AGAIN Huddersfield Giants captain Leroy Cudjoe insists there is still more to come from him and also his in-form team.

The former England centre has played five games since returning from a serious knee injury that sidelined him for nine months.

He did not make his first appearance of 2018 until as late as the last day of May, but since then has helped Huddersfield turn their campaign around and scored his first try of the year in last week’s impressive victory over Wigan Warriors.

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They know if they win at another high-flying opponent – Castleford Tigers – tonight they will secure a place in the top eight when, earlier in the season and before new head coach Simon Woolford’s appointment, they were floundering at the bottom of Super League.

“I’m feeling really good and with every game and training session I’m getting better,” Cudjoe told The Yorkshire Post ahead of the West Yorkshire derby.

“My best isn’t quite here yet and it’s going to take time, but I’m happy with where I’m at.

“I’ve had to learn to be patient; I’m confident my best isn’t too far away and the more sessions and games I get under my belt the more I’ll keep progressing.

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“Scoring tries is always good especially your first one as it means you’re off the end-of-season forfeit for those who don’t score.

“But I was just happy for us to get the win last week and for us to stay on course for the top eight.”

Huddersfield’s renaissance – they have won seven of their last eight league games – means their fate is now in their own hands as they approach this penultimate regular fixture.

Cudjoe, 30, added: “We need to win one more to secure a top finish and we would all rather do it this Friday (rather than last game at home to Wakefield Trinity).

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“But we’ve not really spoken about it too much as every game lately has been important for us.

“The mood in camp is good; it always is after wins and all this breeds confidence and quality training and performance so we’re all just focused about Friday’s game and doing our jobs.

“Castleford at Cas is always tough. I’m sure most teams would say the same; they play a brand of football that suits their small pitch, the crowd are on top of you and create a good atmosphere, so we know how tough a task it is.

“But as a team we’ve come a long way and have a lot of confidence in ourselves and our systems that will give us a good chance Friday. We’ll think about anything else after the game.”

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Castleford, of course, are in good nick themselves, targeting a top-two finish and back-to-back Grand Final appearances.

Cudjoe’s battle with Tigers captain and former England colleague Michael Shenton should be a fascinating one between two of the competition’s best centres over the last decade.

“Michael Shenton is a good player,” he conceded about the player who turns 32 on Sunday.

“He’s played at the highest level and been a consistent performer for a long time in Super League.

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“He’s got good speed and reads a game well. It will be good to come up against him.

“Castleford have a lot of good players as do we, so it will be a good test for both sides.”

Huddersfield lost 40-28 at home to Castleford in early April, shortly after previous head coach Rick Stone was sacked following just two wins from their opening seven games.

Woolford, the former Newcastle Knights assistant, was eventually appointed and it has proved a shrewd decision.

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Asked what is the main aspect he has changed to improve things, Cudjoe said: “I’d say he’s brought clarity to what he expects from us and clarity into roles, which has made us accountable.

“That’s one of the improvements I’ve seen that’s helped us massively. He’s changed quite a lot along with the other staff, but that’s the big one for me. We’ve come a long way from where we were at in March, April. One area of improvement has been our defence. That’s been massive, certainly the foundation of our turn around in form and consistency.

“We’ve proved in the last two months what we’re capable off.”

They must prove it again tonight to make sure of their Super League safety; the table is so tight, for all their effort, there is still little margin for error.