Aiming to become home-town hero after baptism of fire

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TEENAGE debutant Darnell McIntosh conceded he was thrown off “a little” after a late change moments before his first Huddersfield Giants game.

The 19-year-old was listed to play wing against Hull FC on Thursday before being switched shortly ahead of kick-off when Lee Gaskell pulled out due to a complaint about an irregular heartbeat.

Darnell McIntosh.

Darnell McIntosh.

Academy product McIntosh played full-back instead for injury-hit Huddersfield, who went on to lose 48-8 against the Challenge Cup holders.

“Obviously there was a lot of build-up as I knew it was my debut this week so I tried to get my head set on that and making a big impact,” he explained.

“Even though I’ve been training at full-back and played there in trials, I was supposed to be playing on the wing.

“So, two or three minutes before kick-off getting told I’m being moved back to full-back did throw me off a little bit.

“But then Leroy (Cudjoe) and Broughy (Danny Brough) came up to me and put a bit of confidence into me and once I got out there I felt pretty comfortable.”

Huddersfield were missing nine first-team players, including captain Cudjoe, England winger Jermaine McGillvary and back-row Michael Lawrence so a raft of youngsters were given their shot by head coach Rick Stone. They trailed 24-0 at the break but did not throw in the towel.

“One of the things we spoke about at half-time and afterwards, was the effort was there,” added McIntosh, who hails from Huddersfield.

“We were all working hard; Broughy was trying his hardest to carry us through it with his talk.

“But with the players missing we had certain people that filled in, making decisions they wouldn’t normally do then really trying to impress and make up for it.

“When you get injuries you need to know how to deal with them right and that’s a massive learning curve for me out there on debut and everyone else.”

With McGillvary potentially missing for another five weeks, fellow winger Aaron Murphy also struggling with injury and Gaskell undergoing more tests, McIntosh could get another shot when they head to Leigh Centurions next Friday.

He is learning plenty from his colleagues, meanwhile, and hopes to follow the likes of McGillvary and Cudjoe in establishing himself as a home-town star.

“Jerry (McGillvary) is my mentor,” he said. “We partnered off a few months ago. Rick assigned us all a mentor and Jerry got me.

“I feel we’re quite alike and the same with Leroy and Bruno (Lawrence). The more you follow in their footsteps – they’re internationals, great players – the better chance you have yourself and I just try and surround myself with them. I feel like I put myself in a good place.

“It’s not the best thing for the team missing players like Jerry and Murph but they are my positions. I can cover anywhere in the back three so, hopefully, I can step up and Rick has enough faith in me to carry on helping the team out.”