When Craig Huby was 19, he conducted the following interview for Thirteen’s ‘Young Guns’ series in 2005. Jason Emery, who went on to compile Rugby League World’s 50 Best Teenagers On The Planet series in 2007, 2008 and 2009, wrote the introduction and provided me with the questions to ask Craig.
Position: prop or second row
Date of Birth: 21/05/86
Height: 6′ 1″
Castleford Tigers’ teenage prop Craig Huby has the attitude and the ability to go right to the top. With such a mature head on young shoulders, he has been one of the stars in the Tigers side this season as they sit at the right end of the National League One ladder. As the Tigers strive for a quick return to the top flight, several Super League clubs are keeping a close eye on the Pontefract born Huby who continues to go from strength to strength with his strong all round game.
Comparison with the ex-Great Britain and Castleford prop Lee Crooks are inevitable given not only Huby’s goalkicking ability but also his deft ball skills and similar physique.
Craig, how are you enjoying your first year in the National Leagues?
It’s pretty good and it’s good to be winning most weeks!
What’s your favourite position?
Second row is my favourite but if I get pushed in at prop I’m not to bothered to be honest.
You seem to be stronger in defence this year. Is that something you have worked harder on?
Yes, I’ve worked a lot harder on my defence in recent weeks. It needed to be stronger.
How are you finding coach David Woods?
Yeah he’s good. He’s brought techniques over from Australia and has given us a different game plan and it’s working.
What changes has he made from Graham Steadman and Gary Mercer?
Not too much but we attack differently. We have a different style and we’re working more together now.
What was Ellery Hanley like?
I’m not too sure really! I only got to work with him for a few weeks as I went to Australia with the Academy side when he was here so I didn’t get to know him too well.
What went wrong at Blackpool in the final against Hull KR?
Well the first half went pretty well but it all went wrong in the second half. We didn’t play particularly badly. Hull KR just came out fighting.
Can Castleford win National League One and get back into Super League?
Yeah hopefully. It’ll be good to finish top and get a home game but it still all comes down to one game in the final.
What are your personal goals for the rest of this season?
Just to get promoted with Cas back into Super League. That was the main goal at the start of the year and it still is.
You made your Super League debut in 2003 aged just 17 (the second youngest Super League debutant at the time). Do you remember much about it?
I remember a bit but it’s a bit of a blur as it went so quick. I got the call just a few hours before the game with Nathan Sykes dropping out and I was a bit nervous but people like Danny Orr and Dean Sampson helped me through.
Later in 2003 you made the England u-17 team, and had success against the Australian Institute of Sport.
Yes, that was great. It gave us an insight as to what their schoolboys side would throw at us the following year so it was good preparation.
2004 wasn’t the best year for you. You picked up a few injuries.
Yeah I got a few knocks and then broke my cheekbone. What with the tour to Australia as well, I didn’t play much first team at Cas in 2004.
How do you remember that tour?
It was pretty good. Some of it was disappointing for me. I only got to play against Auckland on the New Zealand leg. I was a bit down about not playing in the tests there. I just had to train hard and show the coaches I could play. I got the final jersey for the test in Australia. It was an awesome evening. Something not many people have achieved. It was a great feeling to be part of the team and winning.
What part of your game has David Woods been happiest with?
My defence. It’s improved quite a bit since last year.
You’re getting over the try line quite a bit as well…
Yeah I’ve got a good thing going with Andy Kain and I’m getting some good service. We played together as amateurs and we know each other’s games.
What area of your game can you improve on?
All aspects. I want to keep improving each week and help the team to win things.
Have you been aware of any interest from Super League clubs for your services?
I’ve heard rumours but I don’t want to play for anyone else. I just want to get Cas back into Super League.
There is some great young talent at the Tigers. Who is the brightest star?
There’s quite a few. Some are in the first team now like Michael Shenton and Andy Kain. There’s also Dom Maloney, Ryan Boyle and Sean Lunt. There’s a great academy set up here.
Challenge Cup Final prediction?
Leeds by 8.