THOMAS HEMINGWAY knows this is his big chance to finally establish himself as a Giants’ Super League regular.
After several years trying to force his way into the senior side as a half-back, the 21-year-old is on the verge of making a name for himself as a hooker.
Hemingway has been a revelation since making the switch to No9 at the start of the season, with coach Jon Sharp believing some of his performances for the Reserves have been the most impressive of his career.
As a result, the former England Schoolboy international was handed his chance as a substitute in the Good Friday Super League clash at Warrington Wolves as the interchange hooker with Ryan Hudson.
He was one of Huddersfield’s top performers that day, landing a goal in the 30-14 Halliwell-Jones Stadium defeat, and then backed it up with a tryscoring display in last weekend’s 42-24 Challenge Cup triumph at Halifax.
Unfortunately, he got the nod that day because of the imminent departure of George Gatis back to Australia.
But the loss of the former New Zealand Warriors hooker could prove the defining moment of Hemingway’s career.
“It’s disappointing about George. He’s a quality player, having gained a lot of experience in the Australian NRL, and I learned a lot off him,” said Hemingway.
“I would like to think that if George had still been around, I would have had more chances to show what I could do this season.
“But if not, I was preparing to keep working hard in training and in the Reserves and just keep biding my time.
“However, now I would hope to get more of a chance to establish myself.
“Although I came to the club as a half-back or full-back, I do now regard myself as a fully-fledged No9.
“I’m certainly enjoying it.
“After undergoing shoulder surgery during the winter I’m feeling as fit and as strong as I ever have, and that’s been crucial.
“You obviously defend twice as much at hooker as you do on the edge as a half-back. There’s definitely no hiding place.
“But I believe I’m doing all right defensively, although you really need to ask Jon (Sharp) about that!
“However, the more games I play at hooker, the more comfortable I’m feeling about the role, and it does help that I’ve had hookers of the quality of Ryan Hudson and George Gatis to help me along.
“And in the first-team games, I’ve found it great coming off the bench when Raz (Hudson) has given us such a great lead.
“I just hope that it’s a combination that becomes more and more common as the season goes on.
“I’m still waiting for the nod, but I would be disappointed if I don’t keep my place for the Hull game tomorrow.
“But if I don’t, I’ll just have to make sure I do even better and make it even harder to be left out of the senior squad.”
Hemingway obviously crowned a top display at Halifax last weekend with a first-half try.
It was, in fact, his first for the senior side.
That should mean he avoids doing the infamous naked run for the players who make a senior appearance but fail to score a try, although it would appear Hemingway’s teammates were having a joke at his expense at the end of the Cup success.
“I’m getting a bit sick of having to do the run,” said Hemingway.
“So I was delighted to score, not only because it was my first for the club at senior level but also because it got me out of the run.
“But the boys were trying to convince me that Cup games don’t count, and that only Super League tries get you off the hook.
“I don’t know whether to believe them or not!”