Huddersfield head coach Rick Stone has named hometown hero Leroy Cudjoe as Giants captain for the upcoming 2017 BetFred Super League campaign.
England international centre Cudjoe has spent his entire professional career at the Giants after joining them from Newsome Panthers in 2008, and his popularity is huge as he cleaned up at the 2016 end-of-season awards, winning both the supporters’ and players’ Player of the Year prizes.
The 28-year-old said of the honour: “It’s great to be named captain and a very proud moment for me in my career.
“It was a shock when Rick asked me, but it was something I was keen on doing and it’s even better that it’s my hometown club, the place where I grew up and live.”
Ryan Hinchcliffe, Danny Brough and Michael Lawrence have all been named vice-captains and Cudjoe is glad to have the experienced trio alongside him.
“Having Broughy, Hinchy and Bruno all there to help me along is massive,” added Cudjoe.
“All three have a great amount of experience and I think it’s a good mix of people with a voice around the boys and people who lead by their actions.
“There are also players like Jermaine (McGillvary) and Raps (Sam Rapira) who have played at the highest level and are great leaders too – so it’s good having them around too.”
The Giants begin their Super League campaign against Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium on Friday, February 10, with Cudjoe set to lead the team out – but he insists he is focused on the job.
“To be honest I’ve not thought too much about leading the boys out and the other stuff,” admitted Cudjoe, who has made 251 appearances for the club.
“I’m just focused on doing my job and doing what I’ve been doing for the last few years within the squad, along with the other leadership boys, and try to create a good culture and help us push one another.
“The aim this season is to make the top eight, that’s the first priority. After that we can start to think about other things, but we just want to take it one game at a time and play consistently all year.
“I think the captaincy will be something I look back on when my career is over.”
A quartet of Giants players are set to make their first appearances for the club in 2017 tonight.
New signings Shannon Wakeman, Lee Gaskell, Dale Ferguson and Paul Clough are all in line to play in the pre-season clash with Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium (8pm).
Giants head coach Rick Stone has picked a strong squad for the contest, which is Ben Harrison’s Testimonial game.
Australian prop Wakeman arrived in Huddersfield on Saturday and he has settled well enough for Stone to include the former Illawarra Cutters player in his 22-man squad for the game.
And it is also a first chance for the trio of players signed from Bradford before the Bulls went into liquidation – half back Gaskell, Scottish international second rower Ferguson and former St Helens back row forward Clough.
The Giants will face their former skipper, new Wolves stand off Kevin Brown, who is also set to make his first appearance for his new club.
The 32-year-old England international left the Giants for Widnes Vikings for the start of the 2013 season and he was signed up by Warrington for an undisclosed fee after the unexpected departure of Australian half-back Chris Sandow.
Wolves will be without a quartet of first-team players due to injury with captain Chris Hill, full-back Stefan Ratchford second rower Ben Currie and winger Kevin Penny all set to miss the game.
The Wolves were 24-22 winners in their pre-season outing at Rochdale Hornets at the weekend.
Giants squad: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Lee Gaskell, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Ryan Brierley, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Shannon Wakeman, Tom Symonds, Dale Ferguson, Michael Lawrence, Kruise Leeming, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Oliver Roberts, Ukuma Ta’ai, Paul Clough, Nathan Mason, Daniel Smith, Sam Wood, Darnell McIntosh, Alex Mellor, Adam O’Brien.
Following Saturday’s friendly outing against Workington, which produced a 16-14 win for the Giants, who fielded mainly their younger squad players, Stone revealed that Huddersfield may look to a possible player loan arrangement with the Cumbrian club.
Workington coach Dave Clark was a player under Stone when the Giants chief coached the Queensland Cup side Burleigh Bears – he coached the club for 13 seasons, winning three premierships.
“Myself and Dave Clark have been good mates for a long time and I coached him at Burleigh Bears back in 1994,” said Stone.
“That’s how the friendly came about and we had a bit of a chat about the game and style of team I would play to make it a competitive game.
“I am sure their squad will compete very well in their competition, but they are also looking to bring players in and they can only improve from there.
“Dave was talking about getting players in and we talked about how we possibly could give him a hand in a few areas.
“We have spoken about possible loan deals, but there is nothing formal at this point in time, but loans might be a scenario that we can look at that would help both clubs.
“It is something that may be a possibility this year.”