GIANTS utility forward Graeme Horne is desperate to have the chance to build on his improving form and face Bradford Bulls at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday.
The 25-year-old back-rower produced a highly-valuable try-scoring display from the bench to help beat Harlequins 18-10 at The Stoop of Friday night to take Huddersfield to the top of the Super League XVI table.
But even though the former Hull centre was delighted to come up with such an important second-half score – it extended the Giants’ lead to 18-4 in the 46th minute and gave the home side an even tougher mountain to climb – he knows he can’t take a place in the 17 this weekend for granted.
It’s thought prop Keith Mason could make a return against the Bulls after missing the last two games, while fellow second-row forwards Andy Raleigh and Danny Kirmond are both champing at the bit to get their first starts of the year.
And it’s something that’s not been lost on Horne.
“When you turn up for training, you see nothing but top-quality back-rowers and front-rowers all around you!” he said.
“That’s obviously a really healthy position for the club to be in, but it does mean they’re a lot of players waiting to take your place.
“Because of this, you’ve obviously got to keep playing well to keep your place, and at the moment I must be doing my job well enough. So far, I’ve been able to stay in the team.
“But I’m the first to admit I’m not full-flowing yet and that I need to keep working hard to get to where I want to be – and obviously to hold onto my place at the same time.
“As I said, I’ve got to be fairly happy with the start I’ve made to the year, but I know it’s important for me to keep producing a performance every week and start playing a bit more consistently. I know to my cost what will happen if I don’t!”
Horne’s first try of the season – and his second successive one for the Giants at Quins – couldn’t have come at a better time.
With Harlequins desperate to start the second half strongly and claw back a 12-4 interval deficit, the score took the wind out of the home side’s sails.
And Horne couldn’t have been more delighted about that. “It’s always great to get off the mark, tryscoring-wise,” he added.
“But I’ve always thought of myself more as a team player and not the type who seeks the personal glory, but there’s no question the try the other night was an important one.
“Our overall performance was pretty average, to say the least, and Quins were making it tough for us, and my try gave us a little bit more breathing space in the second half.
“But I know it’s Doof (David Fa’laogo) who deserves a great deal of the credit for making it possible.
“He produced a fantastic piece of play to get the ball away from me, and I was just lucky to be on the end of it and get across the line. I have to admit I did slip near to the line, but I had enough momentum to get over.
“I just hope that I’m in the position to make a contribution again in the next few weeks, because we’ve got some very big games coming up.
“We’ve got Bradford at the weekend and then there’s Wigan soon after.
“These are the games you obviously want to play in, and because we’ve made a fairly positive start to the season we’re all determined to keep up the momentum.
“We all know we’re going to have to be a hell of a lot better than we were against Quins to make sure the wins continue coming.
“But when you’ve just won a game to go top of the table and know there’s a massive amount of improvement still in you, that’s a very exciting thought!”