NEW signing Craig Kopczak knows his strong Giants start against St Helens will count for nothing if he doesn’t back it up with an equally-impressive showing at home to Widnes on Sunday.
The former Bradford Bulls prop led the way with an explosive opening spell in the 26-0 pre-season defeat at Saints on Friday night.
The 26-year-old showed during his relatively limited time on the field that he could become a major Huddersfield front-row force in Super League XVIII, earning praise from head coach Paul Anderson in the process.
But the Wales World Cup captain knows he can’t afford to rest on his laurels, and that a failure to perform against the Vikings this weekend – when vastly-experienced props Eorl Crabtree and Stuart Fielden will make their 2013 bows – could cost him a place in the side to face Saints in the Super League XVIII opener on Saturday, February 2.
“I was really happy with the way it went the other night, particularly as it was my first Huddersfield game,” he said.
“I obviously felt a bit rusty, because it’s been a while since I last played, but it’s something for me to build on and that’s what I fully intend to do.
“If I’m to play regularly I know I’m going to need to keep getting better and better, which is my initial target for the Widnes game this weekend.
“It’s no good playing well at Saints and then failing to back that up against Widnes. I’m aware there’s a lot of talent breathing down my neck and that one slip will send me to the back of the queue.
“I clearly don’t want that. Luckily, it’s up to me to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“My confidence is feeling pretty high at the moment, with a promising opening game coming after a very tough and rewarding pre-season, which meant I felt great last Friday.
“The aim for me on Sunday is to build on that Saints game.”
During a productive pre-season, Kopczak has been taking a lot of advice from head coach Paul Anderson and fellow new signing Fielden.
As former first-choice Great Britain props, the less-experienced front-rower is eager to learn off the duo, and he believes he’s already becoming a better player as a result.
“Knowing I’d be coached by someone like Paul Anderson was a major factor in why I came here,” added Kopczak, who signed a three-year Giants deal at the end of last season.
“He’s already passed on a massive amount of tips that I know are adding to my game.
“And that’s the same with Stu Fielden. I know if I need any advice, all I’ve got to do is ask him and he’ll spend as much time as I need with him.
“You really couldn’t ask for any more than that.
“But that’s just what it’s like here.
“Everyone gets on so well together, and we’re all prepared to give each other as much support as necessary. We really are like one big happy family.
“And that could be one of our many extra strengths this season.”
Kopczak has been named in a Giants’ 20-man squad to host Widnes, but with fellow props Fielden and Eorl Crabtree ready to play for the first time this season, he knows the competition for a starting spot is about to become fierce!