Huddersfield Giants chief Paul Anderson will reserve particular praise for his pack if they overpower Hull FC at the John Smith’s Stadium tomorrow night and move to within 80 minutes of a first Old Trafford Super League Grand Final.
Huddersfield’s dominant forward displays have been at the heart of the club claiming a first top-of-the-table finish for 81 years.
Those performances helped Huddersfield Giants prop Eorl Crabtree, hooker Shaun Lunt and back-rower Brett Ferres earn places in the 2013 Super League Dream Team , while Craig Kopczak has also had an outstanding season and fit-again Jason Chan is back to his best form.
But Anderson is keen to stress that the workload of his middle men wouldn’t have been so great had it not been for the loss of several key players earlier in the year.
Former Australia Test forward Luke O’Donnell played for just 40 minutes of the opening-day win at St Helens before returning home to Sydney Roosters, while injuries have restricted ex-Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden to just nine top-flight starts.
On top of that, knee and bicep injuries have meant Chan has turned out on just 13 occasions so far this season, although he is in line to make it 14 against the Black and Whites in tomorrow night’s sudden death Preliminary Semi-final.
“Everyone talks about how lucky we’ve been in terms of injuries,” said Anderson.
“And compared to some clubs, we have fared better. For that, our medical staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit.
“But to say everything has been plain sailing would be wrong.
“At the start of the season, three of our most experienced forwards were Jason Chan , Stuart Fielden and Luke O’Donnell.
“Luke ended up playing 40 minutes in the opening game and hasn’t been replaced, while Channy and Stu have missed far more games than they’ve played.
“That meant there was a lot more pressure on the rest of our forwards to step up to the plate.
“But they all took on that role seamlessly and have played massive roles in guaranteeing we finished the end of the regular season at the top of the table.
“It was a magnificent effort from all
concerned, and it’s something that needs to be recognised.
“If we’re to beat Hull tomorrow night, then the pack will again have a massive role to play.
“I know they’ll be up for the challenge, and they know their tremendous efforts will be recognised by everyone.”