After the thrilling 24-24 draw against Leeds last week, how’s the mood ahead of Friday’s trip to Salford Red Devils?
It’s very positive.
After the Leeds game, we gave the boys a couple of days off for the first time since Easter, so their mood was even better when they returned to training on Bank Holiday Monday!
We came through that match in pretty good shape and everyone’s looking forward to building on what we produced in the second half.
I thought, defensively, we were pretty soft in that first half, and we sorted that out.
As a whole, I think we tried to pass our way around Leeds, but they played real hard on edge defence and it caused us some problems.
Once we sorted that out we turned things around and seemed to grow a leg when we scored out first try in the second half.
Our confidence grew and we obviously finished the game strongly.
It goes without saying the aim is top carry on from where we left off at Salford tomorrow night, because I’m sure everyone’s aware we feel we owe them for that first game over Easter.
One of the many positives from the game was the first Super League appearance of the season of hooker Kruise Leeming. Did he do enough to keep his place for Salford?
He’s certainly got a chance, that’s for sure.
Overall, I thought he did okay.
He rolled the ruck well for us as soon as he came on, and to play the time he did in his first Super League game this season (around 50 minutes) is a credit to him.
One of the negatives for many youngsters when they get the chance to step up is that they’re not giving enough gametime to show what they can do. They’re often protected in terms of the time they’re given out there.
Up until last Thursday, he’d spent all his season playing in the Under 19s, but playing 80 minutes each time.
And because he was used to playing time, it helped him step up a level and look comfortable.
Talking of younger members of the squad, how well do you feel Jake Connor’s adjusting to his new centre role?
Jake’s doing pretty well, to be fair.
He’s still a very young player and does have some shortcomings in his game, which we tell him about and work with him to improve.
But we also tell him about the things he does well, which are a lot.
Overall, he’s developing nicely.
And what Jake in his new role at centre and Joe Wardle in his new role in the back-row is doing is causing me some selection problems.
They’re both doing good jobs for us, so when everyone’s healthy I’m going to have to make some really tough decisions.
So you’re obviously still encouraged by the way Joe is going in the forwards. Is he doing better in the role than you expected?
No, not at all, because Joe’s a great player.
We’ve just got to make sure he keeps doing the things he’s doing.
In his first two games in the pack it was a case of him adjusting to the transition.
But in his third game against Leeds last week he looked very comfortable there. He’s definitely growing very strongly into the role.
He did a lot of good things in the game and thoroughly deserved his two tries.
Finally, how disappointing was it to see Jordan Cox return to Hull KR?
At the end of the day, he’s their player, and because Rovers are down on troops at the moment it was no surprise at all that (head coach) Chris Chester recalled him over the weekend.
And Jordan’s loan deal was up on the Tuesday anyway.
I spoke to him as soon as he was on his way and thanked him for his time with us.
I know he enjoyed being with us and the fact he got a couple of games under his belt.
My key message to him was to go back to Rovers and make sure he uses the talent he possesses and make sure he stays in the team.
But his presence around the place will be missed, with a lot of people bouncing off his great personality.
To be honest, he reminded me very much of a player I used to play alongside in the front-row at St Helens in Nick Fozzard, who was of course also at Huddersfield for a spell.
Fozz was the life and soul of the party and if you’re looking for a role model in life, Fozz was right up there. Jordan is of a very similar mould.