The boys have returned to training after their five-day break. Does it look as if the time away has freshened everyone up?
That’s obviously the hope.
And the initial signs do look promising. Everyone has shown some good energy.
We did a very high-intensity training session on Tuesday, which was probably the toughest they’ve done all season, and it went well. They’ll be glad to hear it’ll probably be the last physical ‘top-up’ of the year.
But, overall, everyone does look fresh, both mentally and physically, and they look ready to embark on what we all hope will be a great finish to the year.
We’ve now drawn a line under the start of the season, and we’re about to start from afresh once again. What’s happened in the past has gone and we’re now focusing everything on the games we have in front of us.
We know we’ve got some massive fixtures ahead, in Super League and in the Challenge Cup, and we’re all excited about these challenges we’re about to face.
This is the next big chapter for the Giants of 2013, and we can’t wait to see it unfold!
Everyone is feeling confident for the future.
In the immediate future that means Leeds Rhinos at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday. Because of their crippling injury list do you feel this is a good time to play them?
To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less about Leeds.
As usual, it’s what we do that means everything to us.
But there’s no doubt Leeds are a champion side, and the quality of the youngsters that are coming through means they deserve our full respect.
I watched their youngsters beat Widnes the other night and they’ve clearly got a lot of ability.
Widnes did create opportunities but didn’t take enough of them.
So our challenge this weekend is to make sure we create chances and finish them off. If we do that, then we’ll put ourselves in a very strong position.
In contrast to Leeds, you must be happy with the general health of your squad for this stage of the season.
Apart from Jason Chan (bicep), Stuart Fielden (knee) and young Peter Aspinall (ankle) we’re looking in good shape.
As I’ve already said, the players look fresh after their short break, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our three England boys back to training tomorrow.
It was decided as soon as they got their Origin calls to face the Exiles that they would play that game and then have a five-day break, which means they’ll have had the same time off as the rest of the squad.
That obviously means they’ll only be involved in a couple of training sessions ahead of the Leeds game, but that’s not an issue at all.
They are three very experienced professionals who know exactly what’s required and will have no problem at all fitting straight back in.
There will be no great changes to our usual preparation. We just tweak one or two slight things in regard to the particular opposition we’re facing.
And how did you rate the way your three Giants played for England?
I thought they all made very positive contributions.
To be honest,I didn’t think there was a great deal of intensity in the game.
I’m just glad our boys represented the Giants and what we’re about and emerged from the contest feeling healthy.
Overall, it went well for all three of them.
In the opinion of many, Leroy Cudjoe was England’s man-of-the-match. How pleased were you with his performance?
I was delighted.
Leroy’s maturing all the time, and we’re now starting to see the very best of him.
He’s now been in the team for a while and you can see how he’s developing both mentally and physically.
He’s a strong human being and has the full range of skills, which makes him a great rugby league player.
But what’s really pleasing me about Leroy is the consistency he’s showing, and playing consistently well is the sign of a great player, which is what Leroy has become.
At the same time, you often forget how young he is (25) and that he’s still got 10 years ahead of him.
There are areas of his game that still need to improve, and if that improvement continues who knows how good Leroy could be!
At the same time, did you feel for Brett Ferres having to come on and play a completely different role to the one he plays at the Giants?
That’s international rugby league, to be honest. You know you’re going to have to adapt to what you do for your club.
But I thought Brett handled that well.
Ok, he’s not used to coming off the bench and then having to play on the right and then on the left.
But he made a valuable contribution and can take a great deal of encouragement from what he produced on the night.
Brett’s a good, versatile player, and that was shown on his England debut.