FOR the past four months, we’ve been working towards February 10 and the home game against champions Leeds Rhinos.
That day is nearly upon us.
And to say we’re excited about the prospect is an understatement.
There’s a real sense of anticipation among the players, and over the past couple of days it’s very noticeable how they have all become a lot more focused.
Every member of the first-team squad has worked tremendously hard throughout pre-season, with the aim of making sure they are part of the side that steps out at the Galpharm this Sunday.
Unfortunately, one or two of them will be receiving some bad news in the next couple of days when they find out they will be missing out on what we all know will be a fantastic occasion.
Take it from me, having to choose the final 17 has been incredibly difficult. Everyone deserves to be included.
It’s been particularly tough in the forwards, where all of the boys are fit, available and raring to go.
But, as a head coach, you can’t really ask for anything more. Headaches aren’t nice, but I’d settle for a great big selection headache any day of the week!
And those 17 who get the nod know they have it in them to get off to the best possible start.
OK, we know we open our season against the current Super League champions, who demonstrated their champion qualities with the way they battled back to beat Hull KR at Headingley last Saturday.
However, there have been enough signs with the way the boys have worked in pre-season and with the performances in our trial games that we can achieve something special this weekend.
The players set some pretty high standards in the pre-season wins at Hull, Castleford and Batley, and they know even more will be required to beat Leeds.
It was clear from those three games that, offensively, we are further ahead than this time last year. The new signings have had a big role in that.
The key is to back up that attacking quality with a rock-solid defence, which is something we definitely have the ability to produce.
And we know both facets of our game have to be spot-on against the Rhinos.
We know there will be times in the contest when they will put us under tremendous pressure.
It’s how we respond to this pressure which will determine our destiny.
However, I know my players are up for the challenge.
It’s pretty clear we will be backed by more fans than ever at the Galpharm, and I know we’re desperate to give those fans something to shout about!