ANDY RALEIGH is back!
The 30-year-old Giants back-row forward made his first Super League XVI appearance in the impressive 38-16 win at former club Hull KR.
That brought the curtain down on a highly-frustrating start to the year for the Huddersfield-born pack man, who suffered a head injury in the trial win at Wakefield which gave the fellow back-rowers in the squad the chance to stake a claim ahead of him.
But having now regained a senior spot, Raleigh is hoping to keep his place for another battle against the Wildcats on Sunday, although this time at Super League level at the Galpharm Stadium.
“It felt great to get back out there,” said Raleigh, who picked up a cut right eye and cuts to a shin as an ‘official’ welcome back to Super League!
“I’ve obviously been waiting a while to get this chance, so to get picked and then make my return at this level was a pretty good feeling.
“And I felt it went reasonably well.
“I’d obviously have liked to have been out there for the full 80 minutes, which I clearly knew wasn’t going to be the case because I was a substitute!
“But, physically in the middle, there is plenty of work to do, so it’s not often you can do that.
“My main hope now is that in the time I was on the field, I did enough to keep my place for the game against Wakefield on Sunday and be able to improve on the half hour I had on the field last weekend.”
Because of Raleigh’s late start to the season, the former Student international forward admitted he felt fresh and strong going into the New Craven Park clash.
And for that, he believes head conditioner Paul Watson deserves a lot of the credit.
“Watto has definitely been a breath of fresh air,” he added.
“He’s really funny and has to be the most positive guy I’ve ever met.
“With having such a big squad, there are going to people that aren’t playing all the time.
“As a result, it’s good to have someone who can lift everybody and keeps everybody focused on the goal, so that when they get a chance they do well. Watto does just that.
“But he’s also incredibly good at his job of getting us into the best possible shape, and I certainly feel I’ve benefited from working under him.
“When you feel so fit and strong it gives you a great deal more confidence when you get onto the field. It’s a fantastic feeling.”