Written by John Davidson
Warrington forward Jack Hughes is the kind of player every team needs.
Tough, unassuming, hard-working, willing to do the hard yards and tackle himself to a standstill week-in-week-out. A forward that rarely gets the headlines or plaudits, but is a key cog in the Wire outfit.
His importance to the primrose yellow and blue has seen him made club captain this year. The Wigan-born forward has made more than 130 appearances for Warrington since swapping the DW Stadium for the Halliwell Jones in 2016.
Hughes has won a Challenge Cup with the Wire, and played in numerous finals, but is gunning for more.
“It’s always about the team, the club,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“We’re obviously setting out to win all the major trophies. From a personal perspective, my goal’s are aligned purely with that of the team’s.”
The red-headed back-rower’s exploits, and undoubted toughness, caught the eye of then England and Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett in 2019. That was the year he ruptured a testicle in a Super League match and played on for 50 minutes.
At Wembley that season he helped Warrington upset St Helens in the unfamiliar number position of five-eighth, with Blake Austin out injured. He then went on to play twice for the Lions on their southern hemisphere tour.
Now, with a home World Cup to finish up 2021, Hughes has another goal to aim for.
“It’s something that I’ve got an eye on,” he admitted.
“But the main focus is playing well for the club, do the best for the club and perform at my best for the club. If that’s [England] where I want to get to, then that ultimately is what’s going to get me there.
“I’m not worrying too much about that, just to do my best for Warrington. And if that gets me the recognition, the call-up, then that’s the way it should go.”
Hughes’ former Wigan boss Shaun Wane is now in charge of England. Competition for that back-row in the English team will be fierce with the likes of Elliot Whitehead, John Bateman, Joe Greenwood, Josh Jones, Joe Philbin, Liam Farrell and Morgan Knowles all fighting for places.
“There’s a couple of boys over in the NRL, John Bateman’s just come back, it’s an area where as a country we’re really strong, the back-row,” the 29-year-old said.
“Tough challenge to break in, but I’ll be doing my upmost best for the club and if that earns me a call-up, then so be it.”
But first there’s a Super League campaign to contend with.
Warrington were disappointing as 2020 came to a close and their first round semi-final elimination hurt the squad. However, with Australian legend Greg Inglis now in their ranks, hopes are high that that failure can be banished from their memories.
“Greg’s going really well,” Hughes said.
“To say he’s been out of the game and not played for a couple of years he’s going really well. He just has a presence – when Greg speaks all eyes are zoned in on Greg, everyone listens.
“That’s probably the most powerful thing he’s going to bring to the squad. There’s a lot of different ways he’s going to add value with his knowledge and experience, so to have Greg in our squad is a massive bonus for us.”