IN the second instalment of his book, ROBBIE HUNTER-PAUL talks of first impressions at Huddersfield
MY reputation at Bradford as a bit of a party boy didn’t sit well with me, while in 2006 my relationship with my partner Antonia finally ended for good.
It wasn’t a painful break-up. We had just come to the realisation that we were not right for one another. We had given it every chance.
It was ingrained in me that we should be there together for the girls, but when we spoke about what was best for one another we came to the conclusion that it would be best for everyone to end it.
I knew that there was no going back, just as there was no going back in moving to a new rugby life at Huddersfield where none of the guys really knew me.
It offered a fresh start on a variety of fronts, despite a new environment at the Giants feeling alien at first.
I had come from a hugely-competitive team that pushed and challenged from within, in order to scale fresh heights.
My first thought was that these players were good at fitness and skill work, but where was the internal competition and drive?
In the gym, it simply did not exist.
There were also some off-hand remarks about the Bulls “being on the gear” to which my response was, “Don’t get p***y because you think Bradford are on drugs, which we weren’t, sort your gym methods out.”
The players simply lifted weights at Huddersfield. They did not push one another to the extreme, as Bradford did, with a singular exception.
I quickly identified that Chris Thorman was someone I could compete with in the gym.
A Geordie lad who had discovered rugby league as a kid and spent a season in the National Rugby League at Parramatta Eels, Chris was cut out to compete in Ironman.
He just possessed a huge ticker, lung capacity and an infinite ability to run and run. I worked out with Chris and teased the forwards. “Is that all you’re lifting.”
They knew they had to be bigger and stronger, because at the hour mark in games we would run out of steam.
If it was a running race, we would run further than any team, but the balance between aerobic and anaerobic training had to alter.
When the club released the trainer mid-way through the season and appointed his assistant, Ben Cooper, improvements began.
A lot was expected of me, similar to when Bradford rose to prominence. I loved that feeling again.
A lot of people say that I won four Super League titles, the Challenge Cup twice and the World Club Challenge with Bradford and sod all at Huddersfield, but that was not the way I felt at all.
Suddenly I was the go-to man again. It was like being 18 all over again. I had not felt this way since before I broke my arm three years previously, just in terms of purely enjoying playing.
I loved being back in the halves.
Even when I got put in at hooker after Paul March tore a cruciate ligament, it wasn’t so bad, because Brad Drew started teaching me the position properly.
Rather than me doing the work all the time, I learned to delegate, mix up the play and work on my strength.