Josh Griffin says the confidence and respect taken from being crowned Hull FC’s player of the year coupled with a change of lifestyle can help take his game to a new level.
Griffin swept the boards at FC’s end of season dinner last year, capping an impressive turnaround for a player who looked out of form and out of favour at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.
The centre carried on from where he left off with an impressive display at Leeds Rhinos in round one, topping Hull FC’s metres made chart with a whopping 186m and eight tackle busts.
Pointing to the fact he missed almost all of pre-season last year after a hernia operation, Griffin feels in the shape of his life and with his confidence at a new level, he’s playing with an increased swagger which will only benefit FC further.
“Winning the awards last year was a big boost. I spoke to Radders in pre-season about how I felt winning the awards last year gave me a bit more respect with the players,” Griffin told the Mail.
“I am getting a bit older now and I am one of the senior boys in the team.
“I’ve made an effort to be more vocal in camp and work with the young lads more and try and bring them along. But I’ve also been juggling that with learning a new role of the second row too.
“That leadership role I have being in the leadership group, it’s something I enjoy and want to build on. It’s nice to have that recognition in the squad and I feel in a good place.
“Last year I didn’t have a pre-season because of my hernia operation so this year has been great and since the first week of November I have not missed a session. I’ve moved and I am committed to living in Hull now so don’t have the travelling I used to have and I feel great for it. I’m hoping to be better this year.”
Despite his personal success in a tough campaign, Griffin found himself in a strange situation back in November.
Less than two months after sweeping up all the awards at FC’s end of season dinner, the standout player of the year for the Black and Whites in 2019 was tasked with learning a new role.
Having flirted with the second row a little during the previous campaign, the 29-year-old was having to get fully into bed with a new position.
The high-profile return of Mahe Fonua had increased the competition for places at centre and with more options at his disposal in the outside backs, head coach Lee Radford looked to strengthen his hand even further in the back-row too.
Griffin was the obvious choice. A physical runner of the ball with a good step, a strong fend and an explosive nature over a short distance, Griffin’s skill set has long convinced Radford the ex-Salford man’s utility value can be a big asset to Hull.
Radford has plenty of second rowers to pick from, but having a player who can start at centre and switch if needed to cover the back-row, or even come off the bench to spell the likes of Manu Ma’u or Josh Jones, then slot in or cover at centre is of great value.
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“I’ve got that utility tag now. It means I’ll probably be in the team every week, but also means I could be in a different position each week, so that’s tough,” explained Griffin.
“Last year I played centre most of the time and stepped into the back row a little, but if it gives Radders another option then that’s fine.
"If the squad benefits, we’re winning games and getting to finals, I’ll play wherever I’m asked. It’s not a bad thing unless you let it be, I’m trying to use it to my advantage.”