He has enjoyed the high of seeing Huddersfield Town promoted to the Premier League and endured the low of being dropped by England coach Wayne Bennett this week but Huddersfield Giants have always been Leroy Cudjoe’s main concern.
The stylish centre will, therefore, lead his side against Warrington Wolves tomorrow with his solitary aim being to kick-start their bid for the top-eight, something he maintains is wholly achievable despite the West Yorkshire club’s invidious position.
The majority of games this year I’ve played with a knee injury, then I’ve missed a quite a few games recently so it wasn’t a surprise. I just need to focus on getting some games in and some form back and everything else will fall into place.Leroy Cudjoe
Admittedly, Rick Stone’s squad should be refreshed for the Super League contest having had a nine-day turnaround.
That has been a bone of contention for furious Warrington counterpart Tony Smith who described the RFL’s decision to allow Giants to postpone their Spring Bank Holiday Monday home game with St Helens – due to Town being at Wembley on the same day – as “ludicrous”.
He argued it created an unfair advantage for 10th-placed Huddersfield, who could rest players after last Friday’s 28-26 loss at Wakefield, while Warrington, now ninth, suffered a second heavy defeat in four days.
They lost 38-12 at home to Salford Red Devils to drop into the bottom four and leave Smith under mounting pressure with a potential relegation battle looming for last season’s League Leaders.
Asked for his thoughts on that criticism, Cudjoe – whose side head to eighth-placed Catalans next Saturday – told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m not concerned with that. It’s my job to play well and let the RFL do their job.
“I expect the same Warrington we always play; a tough, physical side that will come looking to play quick and throw the ball about.
“Our next two games are crucial. We need to pick up points from teams around us if we are to push on into the eight.
“Two wins against Warrington and Catalan would put us in a good position. It’s going to take a massive effort but I’ve every confidence in the boys we can do this and secure the top-eight.”
It is no surprise; the Huddersfield captain witnessed a far bigger shock on Monday when he saw Town, who share John Smith’s Stadium with Giants, win that play-off final against Reading to return to the top flight for the first time in 45 years.
“It was a great experience watching Huddersfield Town win at Wembley,” recalled Cudjoe, one of almost 40,000 Terriers supporters who descended on the capital to see them remarkably set up fixtures with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
“It was strange as I’ve only ever played at Wembley and never been there as a fan to watch a game. But the atmosphere was unreal and for them to win made the day special; it’s a massive achievement for the club and the town. I don’t think there were many Giants players or staff there as we only found out pretty late we weren’t going to be playing or training that day.
“I was lucky enough to get tickets last-minute. It was great to see so many people from Huddersfield go down and support Town.”
Less than 48 hours later, though, it was confirmed Cudjoe was one of seven players omitted for Bennett’s revised 27-man elite training squad as England continue preparations for the World Cup at the end of the season.
Hoping to regain a Test spot for the first time since the 2013 World Cup, he said: “I was disappointed but understand why.
“The majority of games this year I’ve played with a knee injury, then I’ve missed a quite a few games recently so it wasn’t a surprise. I just need to focus on getting some games in and some form back and everything else will fall into place.”
In fairness, he has been limited to just eight games this season, which is probably one of the reasons Stone’s side have failed to flourish, but after those earlier frustrations, Cudjoe maintains he is in fine fettle now.
Having only lost 26-24 at Warrington on Easter Monday, they have won at Leeds and Catalans in recent weeks and at Wakefield blew a chance of making it three victories in four outings.
The return of Danny Brough after a two-game ban tomorrow will bring greater clarity although – after a third suspension of the season already – will the club’s current captain be telling its former leader to make sure he stays out of trouble on Sunday?
“Broughy coming back gives us a massive boost,” said Cudjoe, about the stand-off who was ‘Man of Steel’ when they won the League Leaders’ Shield together at Huddersfield in 2013.
“He’s a quality player and brings so much to our team. I’m really looking forward to having him back but Broughy is an experienced player and he knows himself – without anyone telling him – we need him on the field with us playing. I’m sure he will come back and play well.”
Furthermore, Giants are set to give a debut to former Hull FC and St Helens utility Jordan Turner newly arrived on a long-term deal from Canberra Raiders.
Cudjoe, 29, said: “Jordan is a great signing for us and brings a lot of experience with him, something we lack within the squad.
“He’s a smart player with good skill and his ability to play a few positions will help us massively and create more competition for places within the team.”
Warrington have called up Morgan Smith to help offset the loss of hooker Daryl Clark through suspension while winger Kevin Penny could make his first appearance of the season.