HUDDERSFIELD Giants are about to enter uncharted territory.
For the first time in the club’s history, they head into a Super League game against Leeds Rhinos as the favourites to triumph!
That really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the current climate.
After all, the Giants take on the champions at the Galpharm Stadium tonight (6.00) above them in the Super League table for the first time and with confidence sky high throughout coach Nathan Brown’s squad – and justifiably so.
Huddersfield take to the field on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, with their most recent success a highly impressive 30-8 victory at Hull KR on Easter Monday.
At the same time, Leeds were suffering their third successive League and Cup defeat – a shock 30-20 home loss to struggling Salford City Reds.
It clearly suggests, therefore, that there’s never been a better time to lock horns with the Rhinos than right now.
Leeds may have beaten Huddersfield on their last five visits to the Galpharm, including a 30-10 triumph in the opening game of 2008, but the Giants have celebrated success over their West Yorkshire rivals once before.
That came in 2003 when Brandon Costin scored twice in a 30-24 triumph.
And then, of course, there was that memorable only other win for the Giants against the Rhinos in the Super League era.
It was the Challenge Cup semi-final on July 30, 2006, when Huddersfield secured a shock 30-12 triumph to reach the final for the first time in 40 years.
The referee that day was Richard Silverwood, and for anyone who believes in omens, he will tonight take charge of a Super League contest between the two teams for the first time.
But whoever takes charge, the Giants now know they have the players capable of more than matching the reigning engage Super League champions.
The starting Huddersfield pack is proving more dominant than ever, with props Keith Mason and Paul Jackson at the very top of their game, and hooker Scott Moore providing excellent attacking spark to continually keep the opposition on the back foot.
Half-backs Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown are now linking up to finally start fulfilling their obvious potential, while in captain and full-back Brett Hodgson the Giants have, without doubt, the outstanding Australian Super League signing of 2009.
And Huddersfield’s threequarters are proving a very potent unit, with winger David Hodgson scoring tries for fun.
On top of that, the sight of props Eorl Crabtree and Darrell Griffin warming up on the sidelines to come on to replace Mason and Jackson after they have softened up their rivals is starting to strike fear into the opposition.
It’s clear, therefore, that everything is in place for the Giants to maintain their spectacular start to the season and claim their biggest scalp so far this year – and in front of another bumper Galpharm crowd.
Advance ticket sales mean a third five-figure crowd of the Super League XIV campaign is guaranteed and is set to beat this season’s current best of 11,338 against St Helens in February.
That figure is boosted by a pre-match competition featuring 10 amateur rugby league teams from the area, which gets under way at 5.00.
These curtain-raisers are another way to involve the community in major Giants’ events, and Huddersfield managing director Richard Thewlis believes they will add to the Galpharm occasion.
“I believe rugby league’s strengths to be in its community values and fabulous playing spectacle,” he said.
“Tonight we have the curtain-raisers, then at half-time we have 20 schools demonstrating their cheerleading prowess, all of which have come from our community department’s involvement in local areas.
“It should be a great game in front of a 10,000-plus crowd with community involvement throughout, and everyone at the Giants should be very proud of the progress we are making.”