Jermaine McGillvary breaks silence on ‘s*it’ Huddersfield Giants exit: ‘I’m gutted… it should have been handled better’

Ben Olawumi
Jermaine McGillvary

Club legend Jermaine McGillvary will leave Huddersfield at the end of 2023 - Alamy

Jermaine McGillvary says Huddersfield Giants should have handled his departure from the club a lot better having only been informed of the decision not to give him a new contract on Monday, a few hours before the club announced the news publicly.

The winger, a certified Giants legend, had been left in the dark over his situation, admitting his future remained unclear earlier this month as he headed into the final three games of his contract.

Late on Monday night, after the news had been given to those in attendance at their end-of-season presentation evening, Huddersfield posted a statement on their website bidding farewell to McGillvary, bringing an end to a 16-year association with his hometown club.

Contrary to the norm, no quotes from the player himself were included in that press release, with the Giants instead looking back over his time at the club.

And the reason for that was made clearer by the 35-year-old today on a press call set up by the club ahead of his final game tomorrow night at home against Warrington Wolves.

Jermaine McGillvary breaks silence on Huddersfield Giants exit: ‘I only found out on Monday’

Speaking for the first time since the news of his departure broke, the veteran flier revealed it was only an interaction with the club’s welfare officer on Monday asking him about the potential of him retiring that prompted a phone call from boss Ian Watson.

Until then, he was still of the belief that a new deal might be on the way from the Giants, who confirmed a total of eight departures in another release following the awards night, also seeing Nathan Peats confirm his retirement yesterday.

McGillvary told Love Rugby League: “I’ve not had much time to reflect to be honest, I only found out on Monday, so I’m still getting my head around it.

“Watto gave me the call on Monday a couple of hours before the presentation evening, so I didn’t really get the chance to take it all in.

“I’m gutted, it’s my hometown club, I live here, and I’ll still live here [next year]. I grew up here as a player, and became the player I was here. It has left a bit of a sour taste how it’s ended, but it’s rugby and it is what it is, I suppose. It’s just disappointing that it’s ended this way.

“I understand, at my age as well, that you have to go in a different direction at some point but I was expecting either to get a deal or to be sat down somewhere in an office and thanked for for my time.

“No one shook my hand and said ‘you’ve done well’ or ‘you’ve helped the club’. To get the news as a phone call after 16 years of my life dedicated to Huddersfield, and to only get the call because of a presentation evening where they were going to release that I was retiring, I think it’s a bit s*it.

“It was quite embarrassing actually telling my family how I found out, it’s not nice over a phone. I think it was just the welfare guy [who prompted the phone call], because obviously they didn’t want to release the wrong thing.

“I think he gave Watto a call, and then Watto actually rang me. He said he had to check on a few things then he rang me back and said he was going to go in a certain direction [with the squad next year], which is fine.

“The reasoning is absolutely spot on, he’s the coach and he needs to make sure his team’s right for next season, and we’re better than this season.

“I respect that totally, I just thought it should have been handled better. It is what it is, I suppose it’s sport, and the outcome was always going to be what it was.

I just want to go out [tomorrow night], play the game and then get off. I obviously want to greet the fans, they’ve been amazing to me. It’s more for them than me, I just want to do the best I can one last time for them, see them all and then just head off.”

Stalwart winger to play on in 2024, seeking full-time offers

The former England and Great Britain international, who penned a first professional deal at Huddersfield back in 2008, wants to play on for one more year.

He has no intentions of hanging up the boots, but says because of circumstances surrounding his family and more specifically his children’s talents, a part-time offer isn’t one he’d be able to take up.

McGillvary continued: “I’m definitely going to play on, but it’s getting my head around everything, getting through this week and then taking things from there. There’s been a few calls, but nothing’s sorted for next year.

“I’ll definitely be full-time wherever it may be, whether it’s in Super League or the Championship. All my kids play football, my two eldest are in Manchester academies and my youngest is on his way there. My eldest trains in the day so he’s not too bad, but my middle kid, I need to go and watch him play, and get him there first of all.

“The most important thing for me isn’t playing rugby, it’s my family. I’m present at all their games every week, I know there’s three of them, so I’ll watch them on different occasions. I need to be present there. I don’t care if you’re giving me £200,000 or £20,000, I’m present at my kids’ activities. I can’t do part-time, because most of the activities are on a week night.”

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