IT’S Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Friday, and the Giants are viewed by many as favourites. How does that make you feel?
To be honest, it never really bothers me if we do or don’t go in as favourites, it’s how you perform on the night that matters.
But there’s no doubt being made favourites for a game against such an outstanding side as Leeds at Headingley is a measure of the progress Huddersfield Giants are making.
We’re given that tag because of where we’re sitting in the table (second on points difference only to leaders Castleford Tigers), and everyone involved with the club should be proud of that fact.
So the most important thing isn’t the fact we’re favourites or not, it’s the way we play tomorrow night that counts.
Our goal is to play well week in, week out, and that means making sure we back up a good performance against Warrington with a good performance against Leeds.
It certainly wouldn’t sit easily with me if we now went to Headingley tomorrow night and put in a bad performance.
You came desperately close to winning at Leeds last season when you led 20-14 with five minutes to go and ended up losing 21-20. Will that be at the back of the players’ minds tomorrow?
Not really, but, again, it’s a sign of how we’re closing the gap on the so-called ‘big sides’ in Super League.
Last year we were closer to beating Leeds than we were the year before, so if that trend continues tomorrow night, it’s not going to be too bad, is it?
And as we feel we’re more well equipped as a side than we were last year, we know we’ll be travelling to Headingley feeling confident.
And do you realise that if Huddersfield win, it’ll be the first victory at Headingley for 52 years?
I’m afraid statistics like that don’t really interest me.
It doesn’t faze me at all, to be honest, and I certainly don’t think the players focus on things like that in the build-up to a game. What happened 50 years ago will have no influence whatsoever on the events at Headingley tomorrow night.
A lot of things seem to be made of stats like this over here, but that doesn’t happen in Australia.
The focus isn’t on what’s happened in the past, it’s how you go out on the field and play now. If you go well, you win, if you don’t, you lose.
In a nutshell, what ground it’s on or when you last won there is all irrelevant to me.
All I know is that on the last two times we’ve played at Leeds when I’ve been coach, they’ve just been that little bit better than us. What counts is making sure we find a way of making sure that’s not repeated again tomorrow.
But you couldn’t be travelling there in better shape than after such a magnificent win over Warrington Wolves last Friday, could you?
It was certainly a good win, and I’m proud of the way everyone played that night.
What was the most pleasing was that it was a good win against such good opposition.
We were really happy with certain aspects of our game, both in attack and defence, and to restrict such a quality attacking side as Warrington to 10 points is no mean feat at all.
And what was also so pleasing was to see every single player from one to 17 contributing positively to the overall performance.
The backs played well and the forwards played well, and you really can’t ask any more than that, can you?
One real note of interest during the game was Larne Patrick’s reaction when he was substituted. You must have been delighted to see him looking so upset when he came off!
Yes, I was, but he was only putting it on for the Sky TV cameras!
Joking apart, that’s the sort of reaction you like to see.
All the younger guys, including Larne, are starting to get used to playing in the more high-intensity games, and they like to play their fair share of minutes.
Obviously, Larne made a big impact in the game and, as time goes by, I’m sure he’ll keep contributing.
On a negative note, how disappointed are you that Andy Raleigh will miss the rest of the month with an eye injury picked up in the Warrington win?
He’s had a bit of a tough run, hasn’t he?
Andy obviously started the year off with a bit of a head knock in the trial game at Wakefield, but he got his opportunity three weeks ago and was doing really well. We were all delighted with the way he was playing.
And I think that makes getting this new injury even harder for him to take right now.
Over the last few years Andy has struggled with a few injuries, some of them long-term, so for his sake we were all hoping he would be able to embark on a long injury-free run.
Let’s just hope that’s now the case when he resumes from this latest setback, because he certainly deserves it.
I suppose there is some consolation for the team as whole, with a couple of blokes ready to come back to do a good job for us.
Darrell Griffin is fit again and is a natural replacement for Andy at prop tomorrow night. And David Fa’alogo is almost there. It was touch and go for this week, but he’ll definitely be fit next week, without a doubt.