FOR most of last week, Huddersfield Giants prop Colton Roche thought he would be playing for York City Knights on Saturday, in a game the League 1 side eventually won 130-0.
However, an unexpected development saw him instead heading to St Helens and – in only his third ever top-flight game – helping Giants stun the leaders in their Super 8s opener.
Roche, 25, has spent most of his career in the lower leagues with the likes of Sheffield Eagles, Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls.
Huddersfield coach Rick Stone gave the explosive front-row a chance at the elite level, however, signing him on a two-year deal after Bradford’s relegation to League 1 last October.
But Roche, who represented Ireland in the 2013 World Cup and was seen as a late developer with potential, had still yet to make his debut by the time Stone was sacked at the end of March.
Interim head coach Chris Thorman did give him his bow against Catalans Dragons in April and he played once more later that month, ironically, a 66-4 loss at St Helens.
However, since then, with Giants stringing together some superb form under new coach Simon Woolford, Roche had not figured, instead making just three appearances on loan with York until that surprise call-up. “I didn’t expect to play and didn’t even know until a couple of days before,” he said, after reinvigorated Giants recorded a 10th win in 11 games to keep their feint top-four hopes alive.
“Simon texted me on Wednesday night saying ‘come train with us tomorrow, I’m thinking about giving you an opportunity.’
“I’ve been doing some days with Huddersfield but not all as I’ve been with York, too.
“But I’ve been training hard and waiting for a chance.
“It was a great win and I felt I went okay. It was the first time since we played at Saints in April but it feels a completely different team now to back then in terms of attitude and belief.
“It was all a bit surreal. We were confident and started great going 16-0 up.
“By half-time last time we came in having completely under-performed and left just fighting for our dignity really.
“But on Friday it was a different story.
“And I was supposed to be playing for York against West Wales Raiders on Saturday so to come in instead and face the Super League leaders and get an actual win was amazing.”
Roche, who came through the academy of hometown Leeds Rhinos without ever playing a senior game, came off the bench to tackle the likes of Luke Thompson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Kyle Amor.
“There’s things I know I need to improve on and there’s a still a lot of things I need to learn,” added Roche, who was unaware the match was also marked his 100th career appearance.
“There’s a real step up from Championship to Super League. But it’s just great to be given the shot.”
Reece Lyne has signed a new four-and-half year deal at Wakefield Trinity.
The 25-year-old arrived at Belle Vue from Hull FC in 2012.