Riders re-sign veteran Canadians

McCullough and Hughes lock on to new deals
Reported by Joel Gasson
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A couple of Canadian veteran Riders will be sticking around for at least a couple more seasons.

The team announced on Tuesday that linebacker Mike McCullough and full back Neal Hughes have re-signed, extending their careers in Saskatchewan to over a decade.

"I know when I came into the league, I always thought 10 years was a pretty big number. Now I'm going to 11, yes! who cares!" joked McCullough.

It didn't take long for McCullough to put an ink to paper, saying he went in General Manager Brendan Taman's office one day to discuss it. A week later they signed the deal in about five minutes.

Even though Hughes has been in Riderville nearly just as long, the magic of putting on the jersey and running onto the field at Mosaic Stadium hasn't worn off for the Regina native.

"Every time I come out of that tunnel, I look up at that spot where I used to sit," said Hughes. "I remember guys coming out like Roger Aldag, and all those guys, still to be a part of that is pretty surreal to me."

While neither of them are likely to steal headlines, or post huge numbers, Taman feels they bring a lot to the team that might often go unnoticed.

"To replace those two guys is not as easy as some may think," said Taman.

Specifically both are very valuable members of the special teams unit, and bring a veteran presence and experience to the locker room that a younger player couldn't.

"You could go probably find some CIS kids like that, but just with the lack of experience and maybe ability at times, you might be going backwards at bit," said Taman.

Now heading into this 11th season, McCullough admits he has no grand plans to be a starting linebacker on this team, adding he is happy to play his role on special teams, and bringing experience to the linebacking group.

"I think I'm kind of like the wild card, if something does happen, they can fit me into multiple positions," said McCullough. "I don't think they have any plans of having me being a starter, I think I'm maybe there to push guys, make them better."

It's certainly much of the same for Hughes, as he will keep going out there and doing what is asked of him.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that both McCullough and Hughes' re-signings were announced on the same day.

"Last couple of years we've been roommates on the road," said Hughes. "My wife always says I'm the husband and he's the wife, as he tends to complain about stuff here and there."