Jake Connor is desperate to remain the centre of attention by helping the Huddersfield Giants secure another vital Super League XX success at Salford Red Devils tomorrow night.
The 20-year-old is set to play his fifth game in Huddersfield’s three-quarter line at the AJ Bell Stadium (8.00) as coach Paul Anderson’s sixth-placed side look to secure a seventh top-flight triumph of the season.
Former England Youth star Connor has already shown his Super League potential with strong senior performances in the stand-off, full-back and wing roles.
But having impressed since moving into the No4 slot vacated by Joe Wardle – the Scotland international has taken his new second-row role by storm in the absence of the injured Brett Ferres – Connor believes centre could be the long-term position for him.
“Playing centre is something I’d never really thought about,” said Connor, who has two wins (Catalans and Hull), one draw (Leeds) and one narrow defeat (St Helens) under his belt since the left-centre switch.
“To be honest, I saw myself playing at full-back in the first team, because I’ve usually stepped into the role when Scott Grix has been injured.
“But having now been given a crack at centre I’m absolutely loving it.
“I’m already at the stage where I’m thinking about trying to keep hold on the position permanently, although Joe might have something to say about that when Brett gets back playing again!
“I know every position is up for grabs, and you have to keep pushing and training hard to make sure you keep hold of yours. That’s what I fully intend to do.
“Obviously, if we keep on picking up the wins while I’m playing in the centres it’ll help my cause, and getting another win at Salford tomorrow is all I’m focusing on right now.
“At the end of the day, winning means everything, and being part of the side is a fantastic feeling.
“I’m at the stage where I’m trying to establish myself at this level and the best way I’ll achieve that is by getting as much gametime as possible, which is what’s happening now.
“If I can start to play with more consistency then I know I’ll give myself more of a chance of keeping hold of my spot.”
Connor knows there’s no cast-iron guarantee he’ll get the nod to play tomorrow night, with former Salford three-quarter Jodie Broughton desperate to battle his way back into the 17.
But if the Halifax-born product does retain his place, he knows another strong performance will be required, not just from him but the rest of the side.
“If we can play with a bit more consistency and be a bit smarter, then I know we’ll be okay,” added Connor.
“Our efforts in recent games have been outstanding and its a case of keeping on building on that.
“Even though Salford have a few players missing at the moment, we know we’re going to have to play well to beat them.
“But we’re confident in our ability and go there fully expecting to win.”
The Giants could field the same 17 that fought out last Thursday’s thrilling 24-24 home draw to leaders Leeds Rhinos for the trip to Salford.
But Huddersfield have called up second rower Oliver Roberts for the first time after returning from a month’s loan at Sheffield, while hooker Kruise Leeming keeps his place in the continuing absence of Luke Robinson with a back strain.
Salford have second-rower Weller Hauraki returning from suspension, but coach Iestyn Harris has doubts over Scott Taylor and Kevin Locke.