Huddersfield Giants half-back Olly Russell has outlined his personal goals for 2024, saying he wants to become a leader in Ian Watson’s side.
The 25-year-old has made 83 appearances for the Giants since making his first team debut back in 2018 after progressing through the club’s academy ranks.
But Russell, who played in their Challenge Cup final defeat to Wigan Warriors in 2022, was limited to just 14 games last season due to hamstring and hand injuries.
The Oldham-born playmaker is fully fit now though and is enjoying a gruelling pre-season with Watson’s side.
“2023 was probably the first year I’ve been injured,” Russell told Love Rugby League.
“I did my hamstring at the start of the year in training so I was out for 10 weeks. I started the season pretty well from an individual point of view, we played Salford and then I was supposed to play at Headingley against Leeds but I did my hamstring in training so I was out for 10 weeks.
“The team was struggling at the time so it’s not very good watching when you can’t really do anything about it. I came back in and hit a little bit of form again, we beat Catalans away and then I broke my hand so my season was done, so it was pretty frustrating for me.
“I’ve never really had a serious injury until them two but touch wood it’s behind me now and I’m fully fit again.”
Olly Russell outlines ambition to become a leader at Huddersfield Giants
After bursting onto the Super League scene as an 18-year-old, Russell is now a seasoned campaigner, and although he’s still only 25, he wants to take on a leadership role with Watson’s outfit in 2024.
“I want to be playing every week,” Russell said. “We’ve got such a young squad now I probably don’t see myself as a young lad anymore.
“I see myself as a bit of a leader now, that’s something I’ve spoken to Watto about and he’s spoken to me about making me better at.
“Probably in a few years wherever I’m playing I’d like to be a captain one day. I think I’ve got it in me to be a decent captain, so it’s just about learning from people like Yatesy (Luke Yates) and Leroy (Cudjoe) and people who have been captains and feeding off them.”
Russell, who is likely to reach the 100-game mark for Huddersfield next season if injuries forbid, reflects back on his early years in the first team as a learning curve which has helped shape him into the player he is today.
He added: “I think I played a lot of games as a young lad. I made my debut at 18 I think and then I kicked on from there.
“Personally, my performances and team performances at the time weren’t very good but I can probably take a lot of positives from those times now with what went wrong and stuff like that, I wasn’t really putting myself into the games, which is all part of a learning curve really.
“People could look at it as a negative but looking back now it was quite a positive time for me, to see what I went through and how I learned from it, so I can probably take it as a positive now – all those early games I played.
“I started well, the first five or six games were really good but it’s learning to do that week in, week out, at such a young age to be consistent, so I learned a lot from those times.”