Hull FC v Huddersfield: Cudjoe hits milestone in following Sinfield’s path

TOUCHING DOWN: Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe, scoring against St Helens, says the Giants must sharpen their attacking edge. Picture: Dave Williams
TOUCHING DOWN: Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe, scoring against St Helens, says the Giants must sharpen their attacking edge. Picture: Dave Williams
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ENGLAND international Leroy Cudjoe has expressed his desire to remain at Huddersfield Giants for the entirety of his career and, therefore, finish his playing days as a one-club man.

The elegant centre makes his 200th appearance for his hometown club this evening when they head to Hull FC for a crucial Super League contest.

It is a notable milestone for the 27-year-old but he is already looking ahead to the next one.

Former England team-mate Kevin Sinfield is set for his 500th game in Leeds Rhinos colours at the same time tonight.

Asked if he would like to follow suit, Cudjoe told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s taken me a long time to get to 200 never mind getting to 500 like Kev.

“But, yes, I can see myself being a one-club man like Paul Reilly pretty much was and, hopefully, Eorl (Crabtree), too.

“My contract ends in 2016 so time will tell but I’d love to do that.”

Gritty full-back Reilly was just coming to the end of his 13-year Huddersfield career in 2007 when Cudjoe was embarking on his – Crabtree, the former England prop, recently marked his 400th career game.

Cudjoe made his debut aged 19 during a 30-10 home defeat to Leeds in February, 2008 – Sinfield was among his opponents – with Crabtree and hooker Luke Robinson the surviving team-mates from that day, although captain Chris Thorman is now, of course, a Huddersfield assistant coach.

“I remember the atmosphere at the game was great,” he said.

“There were 15,000-plus fans there and it was the first game of the year.

“I was on the bench and very nervous. It turned out not being a great day as we got beat but it was brilliant for me to make my debut.”

Sometimes used as a winger, where he played in the Challenge Cup final against Warrington at Wembley the following year, it was 2010 when Cudjoe established himself as a fine attacking centre of some repute, earning his England debut during the Four Nations Down Under.

His best season, though, was 2013 when Cudjoe helped Huddersfield to the League Leaders’ Shield – the first time they had finished top in 81 years – and he was outstanding in the World Cup that autumn.

Giants fans will hope the side can start replicating that form starting tonight at the KC Stadium. It has been a campaign of frustration so far with Huddersfield, despite sitting fifth, having won five and lost six games and being level on points with three other teams down to eighth.

If they win tonight they move into the top four but if Paul Anderson’s side endure another loss they could be into the bottom four by the end of the weekend.

Hull are 11th yet could draw level with Huddersfield such is the tightness of the 2015 season.

“Friday is big for both clubs as is every fixture in this division,” admitted Cudjoe, who has scored 90 tries for Giants.

“The league’s that close a win can put you in the top four or a loss can put you out of the eight completely.

“We will go there with confidence and try to come away with the two points which will put us in that top four which is where we want to be.

“Getting the win against Catalans last week was massive for us; we needed the two points to keep in touch with the top sides.

“We’ve not been far off in any of the games we’ve lost, just offensively we’ve not been too good.

“Hull have been a bit like us, too; defensively good, in attack not as great. But they have a good team with lots of experience like Mark Minichiello, Leon Pryce and Kirk Yeaman, all dangerous players along with Danny Houghton as well, so we will need to be at our best.”

Huddersfield know that all too well, having lost their opening game of the season 19-0 at home to the Black and Whites in February, an early pointer to their creative problems to come.

Does that game hold painful memories for the squad?

“I wouldn’t say painful – we just let ourselves down,” insisted Cudjoe, who got his third try of the year in the 38-14 Catalans win.

“Our defence was good that day, I think they just scored a few tries from kicks.

“It was just in attack we didn’t give ourselves a chance and we know we have to work on that.

“We all do. Personally, it’s been good to get a few tries and I feel my form has been pretty consistent this year.

“My defence and the little stuff in my game I’ve been happy with.

“I just need to keep working on the attacking part as do we as a team. Once we start keeping hold of the ball and playing more I’m confident my attack will soon be where I’d like it to be, too.

“We will go there Friday confident that if we play well we will get the win – as we do when we play anyone.”

Giants are without Chris Bailey, the Australian back-row who will undergo bicep surgery today and miss around three months of action, plus on-loan Hull KR second-row Jordan Cox, who is ill.

However, England Knight Michael Lawrence is looking for his chance to reclaim a regular spot so he should be a suitable replacement for Bailey with Josh Johnson perhaps coming in for the unlucky Cox.