JERMAINE MCGILLVARY knows fellow winger Jodie Broughton well enough to say with some confidence that he feels his former Huddersfield Giants colleague could challenge him for his England jersey this season.
Huddersfield wideman McGillvary, of course, is a man in charge of one of those national slots after memorably making his debut in the third and deciding Test win over New Zealand last autumn.
Given he has has scored 11 tries again already this season, even in a struggling Giants side, there is every suggestion he will be retained by new coach Wayne Bennett for the forthcoming Four Nations.
However, Broughton has been a revelation himself this term following his move from Huddersfield to Catalans Dragons.
Having joined from Salford Red Devils, he managed 16 tries in 30 Super League games for the West Yorkshire club before heading to France, frustrated at not being able to hold down a regular place due to the prolific form of McGillvary and the sheer consistency of Aaron Murphy.
But, given a sustained run of games with in-form Catalans, the 28-year-old from Leeds suddenly looks a transformed character.
Ahead of today’s visit from Huddersfield, Broughton has amassed 13 tries in just 11 matches so far for the Perpignan-based club.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, McGillvary admitted: “He’s doing outstandingly well.
“That’s the sort of player he is. He probably didn’t get a good enough run of games for us but he is a quality player.
“I’d played against Jodie loads of times before when he was with Salford and always knew that.
“He’s probably the form winger in Super League at the moment and I can definitely see him challenging for an England place.
“He’s always been quality but is now taking it to the next level. I don’t think it’s out of the question at all.
“If he keeps this form all the way through then he will put himself in contention.
“It’ll be good to see him on the weekend although I don’t think he’s allowed to see us beforehand – his team-mates get a bit funny about that – but it will be good to catch up with him afterwards.”
Huddersfield will certainly be wary of Broughton’s strike potential this evening – three of those 13 tries came in his first return to John Smith’s Stadium when Catalans won 46-26 in March –but they are intent on continuing their own recovery.
After a difficult start to the campaign, that saw them bottom of Super League, Paul Anderson’s side have now won three of their last four games.
So, especially after back-to-back defeats of Leeds Rhinos in the league and Challenge Cup, have they turned a corner?
“I think we’ll know in three or four weeks,” said McGillvary.
“We’ve gained some confidence with these last two wins and do have three from four but it’s too early to say whether we have turned a corner yet.
“We are going to be confident going to Perpignan but Catalans are an outstanding side with quality players all over the park. It’s going to be hard.
“We won there last year but it is a really tough place to go.”
McGillvary scored both Huddersfield’s tries when they won there 14-12 last July – they also prospered at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in 2013 – and, indeed, has crossed in each of the last five games against Catalans, totalling seven during that run.
However, Laurent Frayssinous’ side are a different beast in 2016 when they have emerged as genuine title contenders.
They were up to second ahead of this round and had won seven consecutive games before Hull FC ended that run prior to last week’s Challenge Cup ties.
Catalans may be without suspended Australia second-row Dave Taylor tonight but they do welcome back another former Kangaroo in influential stand-off Todd Carney, one of a myriad of quality overseas captures.
“I think Glenn Stewart especially has gone great for them,” added McGillvary.
“He’s a world class player and with people like Dave Taylor – I know he’s suspended – and Justin Horo they’ve made some great signings while the full-back Tony Gigot is class too.
“They seem to be gelling really well and I can’t see them falling away.
“In fact, I see them as favourites to get to the Grand Final.
“If everyone stays fit, especially the likes of Todd Carney and Stewart, I can see them going all the way to Old Trafford.”
Ordinarily, it is Huddersfield battling for that honour, Anderson’s side so often making the last four of Super League.
However, that seems unthinkable this campaign after that dreadful start returned just one win from their opening 10 league games.
McGillvary conceded: “We’re just taking one week at a time now.
“Our goal is to make the top eight.
“Anything greater than that will be a bonus.
“That’s a hard enough task in itself – we’re six points behind the pace – and it’s going to be tough but that’s what we’ll focus on.”
The potential return of Jamie Ellis, the scrum-half missing for much of the year due to a shoulder injury, should aid them while Catalans may give a debut to Romain Navarrete, the 21 year-old prop who played six matches for League One club Hemel Stags in 2014.