AT the end of a week when there was great confusion and hilarity about his identity, more people should certainly know who Jermaine McGillvary is now.
The powerful winger scored a classic try to secure Huddersfield Giants a famed 28-22 win at champions St Helens on Thursday, taking his tally to 19 for the season.
However, he had spent much of the build-up to the game deeply amused after a national newspaper hailed his growing England potential in an main page article – but inadvertently published an image of Wigan’s Liam Farrell with it rather than himself.
McGillvary is black. England second-row Farrell, of course, is white. With red hair. Cue countless gags on social media.
McGillvary admitted to The Yorkshire Post: “It has been funny. I found it hilarious.
“We’ve got a group chat on (social media site) Whatsapp and someone posted the page on that.
“I didn’t know what they were on about to start with until I read it – and then I was in stitches!
“Obviously, the paper has messed up a little but it was a good article, an honest mistake and everyone did find it funny on social media.”
Ironically, McGillvary is in the picture as a former Huddersfield colleague pointed out.
“Larne Patrick said all the Wigan boys were laughing about it and he zoomed in and said I was actually in the background so I Tweeted that out, too!” he added.
“My mum found it hilarious and my grandma, too, and it’s all been good banter.”
It is no surprise McGillvary can see the funny side; plenty is going great for him right now.
There is a growing belief that he could yet force his way into the England squad for the first time at the relatively late age of 27. He has scored nine tries in his last six games alone, including a wonder 80m effort versus Catalans a little over a week ago, to make him Super League’s form winger. He has a physical presence and work rate that sees him crucial in helping his side get away from their own line, too.
The Huddersfield-born player still faces stiff competition to make the autumn series against New Zealand given Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall is a certainty on one flank and the likes of Josh Charnley, Joe Burgess, Tom Briscoe and Tommy Makinson are all challenging for the other.
However, McGillvary believes he is playing his best football since 2010. “Without a doubt, this is my best season to date apart from my debut year.
“I’d love to play for England and you want to play at the highest level. But all I can do is take each game as it comes, try my best and see where it takes me.
“I never set targets; when people ask how many tries do you think you’ll score this season I always say I never set a number – I’m just here to play well and be consistent. I think I’ve done that through this season so far.”
McGillvary has never been involved with Steve McNamara’s England elite squad but has represented the second string.
“I played for England Knights but it was only one game against Ireland (in 2012) and I tore my pec’ after 10 minutes so that was a bit unfortunate. I got called up a couple of more times for the Knights but was injured.
“I’ve had meetings with Steve and spoken to him before but never reached that top squad. Hopefully, if I’m playing well enough I will.”
The gutsy win over St Helens saw Huddersfield replace their rivals in third place and take a step closer to securing a top-four berth and semi-final slot.
That would leave Paul Anderson’s side just 80 minutes from a maiden Grand Final appearance.
They have notoriously struggled at this time of the season in the play-offs but McGillvary insisted: “The way we have been poor over the years has put us in good stead mentally.
“We know we are more prepared for it now and know how to deal with things a bit better.
“We know we’re not 100 per cent still and it was still not good enough against Saints; we won but it was far from perfect.
“But you have to do that to win these big games. It’s not always going to go your way but if you can grind it out and get a win who cares how you get there? That’s what we did on Thursday which was pleasing and refreshing. It was a big win for us.”