Examiner RL reporter Chris Roberts puts the questions to the Giants coach.
It’s the start of your first Challenge Cup campaign as a head coach. How much are you looking forward to that?
I always look forward to the Challenge Cup, it’s a very special competition.
I’ve also got some history with it as a player, having won it a few times and lost it a few times during my time at Bradford and St Helens.
And as a group at the Giants we’ve spoken of putting all our efforts into doing as well as we can in the competition.
As a result, this weekend is all about focusing on Batley Bulldogs and nothing else.
Our main priority is making sure we do what we need to do to fix things up and ensure we’re better than we were the previous week when we beat Hull KR at home.
Do you still think there’s magic in the Challenge Cup?
Yes I do. It’s fairytale time, isn’t it?
It’s us, a Super League side, against a Championship side in Batley, and we’re probably the only one who can lose this week.
If Batley put up a good fight and we get a good crowd – which I desperately hope we do – then everyone’s happy.
But if Batley win, everyone’s happy apart from us!
And that’s the last thing we want.
We’ve got to go there with the right attitude, play the Huddersfield Giants way and hopefully defend our way to a win.
Jacob Fairbank and Anthony Mullally played for Batley as part of the two clubs’ dual-registration deal last weekend. Were they spies in the camp that day?
No, not at all. They were simply playing their part in the excellent deal we have with Batley.
To be honest, I’ve not spoken to either of them about the game.
But such is the excellent relationship we have with Batley and their coach John Kear, that we’ve swapped copies of our last games so we can take a closer look at each other.
To tell you the truth, I was tempted to send them a copy of our recent 60-point win, because John would have learned so little about us from that!
But seeing as I didn’t want to upset him too much, I had a change of heart.
I’m sure there are a few more things John has learned about us, just like there are a few more things we can learn about them.
But, overall, it has reinforced our belief that Batley are a good side and deserve our full respect, which is exactly what we’ll be giving them on Sunday.
Apart from Jason Chan, everyone’s available, and that strength will be reflected in Sunday’s squad.
Talking of Jason Chan. Is he getting close to a return yet following his knee injury?
Channy started running this week, and everything is looking pretty positive.
In fact, I’d say he’s now days away rather than weeks away from making a return. All being well, it’ll be a maximum of two weeks.
There’s a good chance he could make our trip to Catalan Dragons next week or, if not, he should be a certainty for the home game against Warrington a week later.
And it’ll provide everyone with a lift to see him back, because he’s a good player and good players are always missed.
Away from the Giants, do you think Steve Ganson is a good appointment as the new head of referees?
I can’t really answer that at this stage, because he hasn’t been able to do anything yet.
But he is fresh out of the game and obviously knows it very well and what’s involved.
I’m sure it won’t be too long before he’s stamping his mark on the game.
One thing I hope he does is take steps to give the referees more personality – if that’s the right phrase – out on the field, rather than see things in black and white.
It seems to me that match officials are refereeing with the rule book at the moment, rather than refereeing the situation.
When I used to play and went head-to-head with a front-rower, a referee would watch what we were doing, tell us it’s one apiece and make it clear he’d got his eye on us.
That doesn’t seem to be going on very much any more.
Ben Thaler is probably the exception to that rule.
He does talk to the players, and I know they respect him for doing that.
But I’m certainly not going to make a song and dance about the referees.
At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s that much point complaining about referees, because if you start doing that then you’re going away from the things you can control yourself.
You can call them every name under the sun, but it’s not going to change anything.
So did you think it was wrong for Hull KR coach Craig Sandercock to label some of referee Thierry Alibert’s decisions ‘embarrassing’ after you’d beaten them in Sunday’s game?
Everyone sees things differently, and has their own way of dealing with these things.
I have to admit I was unsure about a number of decisions the referee made that day.
But there’s no way I was going to question them, because I wasn’t 100% sure they were wrong.
And I am glad I did keep my mouth shut.
For instance, I thought when Aaron Murphy had caught a high ball, he’d had a foot in the in-goal area and we should have had a tap 20 restart. I thought the referee had got it wrong.
But when I looked back at the incident, I could see Aaron had both feet in the field of play, so the referee was right and I was wrong.
That’s why I think you should be careful what you say in the first few moments after a match.
Having said that, my main concern with that particular incident was that when Murph caught the ball, Hull KR had three men around him applying pressure and we had no-one lending him any support.
That was the most important thing to me, because that’s something that’s in our control to fix up.