It was a dream Danny Langtree probably thought he’d never realise, to play in Super League. But this year, at the age of 27, he’s about to.
It may of come as a surprise to himself, but he won the 2014 Championship One Player of the Year back in 2014 and scored 54 tries in 131 appearances from the back-row for Oldham between 2012 and 2018.
That kind of form will not go unnoticed, but Langtree couldn’t believe Hull FC had made the move for him last year. Super League clubs have began to recruit more from the lower tiers, with Chris Hankinson and Joe Bullock joining Wigan from Swinton and Barrow, York’s Joe Batchelor joining St Helens and Matt Davis joining Warrington from London Broncos ahead of the new season.
And Langtree’s move to the top tier comes a decade after he was released by St Helens as an Academy player for failing a drugs test for cocaine use, and he now wants to make the most of his second chance at a crack in Super League.
“I was completely shocked and I wasn’t expecting it,” he told Total Rugby League. “It was a surprise, of course, but a pleasant one. It’s one of them. Once you get to a certain age you kind of accept you’re not going to play in Super League and it’s probably gone.
“Radders (Lee Radford) have given me a rare chance, I’ve got to prove that it was the right decision. The first season I’ve got a point to prove and thank them for the faith and if I get a chance I’ve got to make sure I give it everything.”
Naturally, the move sees him leave a full-time career away from Rugby League, for the time being, and into a full-time training environment. A difficult transition for any player, but he admits that the rigours of a full pre-season programme have been no comparison to working life.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “Being in every day and being in a full-time environment. I used to work in a haulage firm, in the offices, which my dad owns. It’s completely different to being out on the field every day.
“I’d be working 9-5 and 6-8 on a Tuesday and a Thursday and then an hour on a Saturday. People don’t see how much that is to manage, then there’s your personal life too. I think the full-time environment is more testing, though, the sessions are a lot longer a lot more testing. This is called the top level for a reason.”
Hull have recruited lightly despite a woeful end to 2018, which culminated in an 11-game losing run. Langtree joins Levy Nzoungou from Salford, Matty Dawson-Jones from Leigh and the Jordan Thompson back at the club from a spell at Leeds Rhinos, as head coach Lee Radford has paid his faith in the key members of the squad, despite their failings last year.
But Langtree, who has observed a change of attitude in the camp since his arrival, added that the squad look to have freshened up their outlook and hope to control their own destiny this year.
“We’ve spoke about what happened last year in pre-season in the first week. Obviously I wasn’t here, but you kind of feel some of the hurt,” he said. “They’re in the process of putting it behind them and working to move forward.
“It’s infectious to be around. Nobody wants a season like last season and you can sense that, it probably feels like there’s a bunch of new signings around the place.”