Having already looked into our Outside Backs, in part 2 of our off-season series, we're looking at the Giants forwards, reviewing how our pack fared in in 2023 and what to expect in 2024

2023 - Strength & Depth

Considering how disappointing our 2023 campaign proved to be, I'd argue our forward pack was our strongest asset throughout the season. It was rare that our middles weren't at least competitive, regardless of the result. In fact there were several rounds where you could probably say our forwards outperformed the opposition, even in defeat.
As we've now come to expect, Chris Hill and Luke Yates were absolute rocks and a mainstay of our defensive efforts - with Hill managing an impressive 96.9% tackle success rate, and our captain ending the season as the only player in Super League to make more than 1000 tackles. Hill was also one of our top carriers of the ball, running for over 2000m over the course of the season, and while the Super League website doesn't track post-contact metres, but you'd bet good money he lead the way for us there. Elsewhere amongst our first choice forwards, the Polar Twins continued to show their class and in his final season for the club, Chris McQueen backed up his phenomenal 2022 with 12 tries and 700+ tackles in 2023.
Sadly, as was the case across the squad, we had a fair few key injuries to deal with as the season went on. Joe Greenwood may have been one of our top performers when he played, but he missed half of the season to injury. Similarly, Harry Rushton looked set to be a hell of a signing in his first 11 Super League appearances, before spending the rest of the year on the sidelines. Worse yet, after playing a big part in our 2022 success, Owen Trout and Josh Jones managed just 5 and 4 appearances respectively, playing their final games for the club. And then finally, as Harvey Livett looked to step up and fill that gap in the side, he found himself with a dislocated shoulder, returning too late in the season to have any real impact.
Still, while these absences were significant, injuries are an inevitable part of the game, and it was in the pack where our depth and conditioning flourished, with no shortage of quality forwards ready to step up and dig in. After an up and down few years, Ikahihifo was back to his wrecking-ball-best, averaging 4.5 tackle busts a game, typically coming off the bench to wreak havoc on tired defenders. Cudjoe made the move from the backs to the back row and never looked out of place, Ashworth had his best season in a Giants top, and we saw a glimpse of the future as Fenton Rogers made an impressive debut.
So all in all, not a bad effort from our forwards. But - just as we saw our outside backs undergo a significant change in 2023 - there are going to be plenty of new faces in the middles this year


  • Josh Jones (retired)
  • Chris McQueen (retired)
  • Owen Trout (Leigh Leopards)
  • Nathan Mason (Corrimal Cougars)
  • Jack Ashworth (Hull FC)


  • Jack Murchie (Parramatta Eeels)
  • Hugo Salabio (Wakefield Trinity)
  • Jack Billington (promoted from Academy side)
  • Andre Savelio (Hull FC)

2024 - Rebuilding

While all of our outgoing forwards will no doubt be missed, Chris McQueen will almost certainly be the toughest to replace. When joining the club in late 2020, few could have predicted what an instrumental signng he would become. At the time we had just 16 fit players and were just desperate for bodies, whereas he'd played just 10 games in 3 years and was desperate for game time. It felt like a move of convenience for both parties, but within 2 years he won the Lance Todd trophy and eventually retired as a club legend. There's no getting away from it - he's a hard act to follow.
Looking at the incomings, on first glance it seems we're looking at two-in-two-out in the back row, with Murchie and Savelio replacing Jones and McQueen. Savelio seems to be carrying a long term injury and will likely have to earn his spot later in the year, while Murchie will certainly be a signing to keep an eye on. While he never really cracked the Parramatta first team, he put in some top first-grade performances for the Warriors and had an impressive 2023 season in the NSW Cup. Watson tends to favour his left edge in attack, and so a potential combination of Murchie, Halsall and Swift could be responsible for a lot of tries this year.
Our third signing comes in the form of a giant frenchman by the name of Hugo Salabio - who we can likely expect to play a similar role to Ikahihifo, coming off the bench as an impact forward. He really has the potential to become a fan favourite, and not just because of his Myler-dunking skills. He was putting in some huge runs in preseason (albeit with a few handling errors) and is still just 23, meaning his best and biggest hits are yet to come.
While on paper it seems we've lost more players than we've gained in the pack, I would expect some of our class of 2023 to really step up and take a more leading role this season. After years of working his way into the side, Sam Hewitt has been rewarded with a starting squad number and looks set to challenge for a consistent run in the team. If Harry Rushton can remain injury-free, you'd expect him to play more often than not, and based on his preseason performances, I'd say it's going to be a challenge keeping Harvey Livett out of the 17. And of course, as has been the case for so long, you can't look past Leroy Cudjoe to work wonders for this club.
In 2023, we made significant changes to our backs and - as we've discussed - it didn't quite work out. Giants fans could be forgiven for feeling apprehensive around the big losses in the pack this year, but there's genuine quality in the ranks, and if the fitness levels and physicality we saw in preseason are anything to go by, there's certainly cause for optimism that we can win the battle up the middle more often than not.
Click here to check out our third and final squad breakdown, as we look at the Giants spine options for the upcoming season