RISING Giants star Joe Wardle shouldn’t be feeling too tired when he takes to the pitch tonight for the re-arranged pre-season clash against St Helens at Widnes.
The 19-year-old former Bradford Bulls centre may have just experienced the most demanding pre-season programme in his fledgling career.
And that has come after playing a full and successful role in Scotland’s European Nations Cup campaign last autumn.
But that hasn’t prevented the new Galpharm Stadium arrival from making a major impact in the Giants’ trial games.
He caught the eye on his debut in a highly-encouraging display for Huddersfield’s youngsters at full-strength Batley Bulldogs at the beginning of the month
That was followed with a 10-minute second-half run-out in the win over Hull KR in Eorl Crabtree’s testimonial clash before he backed that up with a starring role in the win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats a week later.
Despite facing the Wildcats’ strongest available Super League side, Wardle showed he has what it takes to match the ‘big boys’ by scoring the opening try and setting up two second-half efforts for his winger, Greg Johnson.
As a result, he has earned a place in Nathan Brown’s 20-man squad to face Saints tonight, and has admitted he’s done everything he can to make sure he’s in the peak of condition for the big day.
“On Friday night, I made sure I had a really early night so I’d give myself the best possible chance for the Saints game the following day,” he said.
“But obviously, that match was called off, so it’s been the case of some more early nights, not that I’m complaining, of course.
“To be honest, I’m loving everything about being here, including the early nights and the hard work, because that’s been the key to the improvements I’ve been making all the time.
“I’m pretty happy with the start I’ve made to my time here, and I know I’ve already had a fair amount of game time in the trials.
“I’d like to think that’s given me the chance to show everyone what I can do, and hopefully I can continue to do that tonight.
“To have made it into the 20 for this game is quite an achievement, I’m fully aware of that, and that’s just made me even more determined to keep working.
“I feel I’ve come on leaps and bounds since I got here, both in terms of my fitness and in my game in general.
“(Head conditioner) Paul Watson has got us in great nick, and this is the best I’ve felt physically in my career, even though it’s been such a short one!