After transforming himself from a fullback into one of the game’s in-form halves, Jahrome Hughes has credited tips from Storm legend Cooper Cronk for assisting him in the evolution of his craft.
The 25-year-old playmaker notched his 50th game for the Storm in the 41-10 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday and is relishing his full-time move to the halves after starting his career at fullback.
Cronk is on the Roosters coaching staff these days but the champion halfback was at Melbourne when Hughes joined the club and is only too happy to assist when asked.
"I came down to Melbourne as a fullback but realised that it was best for the team to have me at halfback, so I reached out to a lot of people and Coops was one of them," Hughes told NRL.com.
"The coaching staff gave me the right tools to learn and become the best halfback I could.
Match Highlights: Storm v Bulldogs
"Having a full a pre-season was good and I did a bit of work in the COVID break as well with Sandor Earl, some one-on-one stuff.
"Coops was emailing me and letting me know what I needed to work on.
"It is a massive boost and remember he didn’t start off as a halfback when he was young either. I am in the same position as him and he has always been there if I need him with a text.
"When I first came to the Storm I learned plenty from Billy Slater and I still reach out to Bill as well."
After making his Telstra Premiership debut for the Titans at 18, he played just one further first-grade game in the following three seasons before joining the Storm.
"I remember playing my first game back for the Titans in 2013 and had a lengthy stint there without playing where I thought my career might have been over.
"After playing that one game early I thought it was all going to come easy but soon realised that it didn’t.
"I realised that I had to work hard to get to where I wanted to be and the Storm showed me that. I didn’t think that I would get here, but I am just stoked that I did."
Coach Craig Bellamy can see the rapid improvement in Hughes across the board.
"We see him as a half as well and he has done a tremendous job. He is building into his role and knowing what his role is.
"He was one of those guys who had to get a bit more confident in what he was doing and I think he has this year.
"He didn’t see a whole heap of the ball because we went up our left side a fair bit but they had a bit of strike out there with Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Kieran Foran on that side and I thought he did a tremendous job defensively."
Munster leaves the field with knee injury
The Storm will be without the injured Cameron Munster and Cameron Smith for Thursday’s clash due to their shoulder and knee injuries respectively.
"To be the player and halfback I want to be in this team I know I am going to have to take up a bit of the slack, and even when they are there," Hughes said.
"Without them it is going to be a little bit different but I am keen for the challenge and so will the other boys that come in."