THE mood in the squad must be really positive after the win over Warrington. How much are you looking forward to getting back out there against Castleford on Saturday?
I think everyone’s excited about the prospect, although the players are also keen to get back on the field and improve their performance, which is clearly very positive.
And that’s because we’re all well aware that improvements have to be made.
Yes, it was extremely pleasing to open our season with a win over a team like Warrington, because they have so many good players in their side.
From a physical and intensity point of view we turned up to play, but attack-wise there’s a great deal of room for improvement.
Exactly how much improvement we have in us remains to be seen, but I think there’s a fair bit judging by what we saw last weekend.
Obviously, it was game one of what is going to be a very long season and by no means did we expect to be perfect. The key is to keep on improving week by week.
Much of pre-season was devoted to working on your defence and the fitness of the squad. Did that bear fruit on the opening weekend?
Apart from the last seven or eight minutes, we did a very good job defensively.
When you’re playing against the Morleys, Westwoods and Andersons of this world, you know you’re going to have to match them physically. If you don’t, they’ll punish you.
But, as a group, we did a good job and were rewarded with the win.
The way we did that showed the hard work we have been putting in during pre-season training has been paying off.
On top of that, we emerged from the contest in good physical shape, which added to what was a good first week for us.
While some sides picked up a fair few knocks, we’ve unscathed injury-free.
That’s another big bonus for all concerned, and a reward for all their efforts throughout what has been such a punishing pre-season.
So does this mean you’ll be naming an unchanged side for the trip to Castleford?
We’ll certainly be naming the same 19-man squad, which obviously means any changes we do make will be kept to an absolute minimum.
Although there are rooms for improvement in every player who went out there last Saturday, they all did enough to hold on to their places in the squad, which is what a head coach always wants to see.
Unfortunately, that also means there are going to be some very disappointed blokes who are going to miss out again, but that happens when you’ve got a good, strong squad.
How long do you think it will be before we see Jamie Simpson in a Giants’ Super League shirt?
When Jamie first arrived here last week we told him he faced a month of hard training before he’d be available for selection.
A lot of other blokes in this squad have done a lot of hard work during pre-season with us and have earned the right to get their chance before him.
Jamie is fully aware about that and he’s also more than happy about it, too.
He’s an excellent professional and fully appreciates how much he’ll benefit from being introduced into the team gradually.
But, all being well, by round four he’ll be in a position to be selected.
Are you adopting a similar approach with Dale Ferguson, who has signed from Wakefield this week.
Yes, it’s a pretty similar situation.
He’ll also undergo four weeks of hard training and could come into contention for round five.
At this stage, it’s just a case of waiting to see, but we definitely know we’ve got ourselves a very good young player.
As soon as he joined us we knew we were getting someone who will have been given a good start under the coaching of Keary and the rest of the staff at Wakefield.
In that sense, it’s very unfortunate for Wakefield that he’s had to leave, but when you become aware that a player of this quality could be available you’re not going to ignore it.
Back-row, which is obviously Dale’s position, is such an important area in the game, and if you haven’t got a good back-row you’re wasting your time.
We’re clearly already fortunate to have a lot of strength in this particular position, but there’s no question Dale helps make it even better.
He knows that with the likes of Luke O’Donnell and David Fa’alogo around he’s not going to walk into our side.
But we know, as well as him, that by working alongside international players of this calibre and with our England boys Dale will continue to get better and better.
He’s excited by the prospect of that, just as everyone else is at the Giants.