WELL, it’s Friday, February 5 at last!
It’s the date we’ve all been waiting for since the Super League XV fixtures were announced back in mid-November last year.
And in Bradford Bulls at the Galpharm we’ve been handed a very tough, but great start.
It’s always a bit like taking a step into the unknown when it’s your opening fixture, but we do feel confident we can make a good start on the back of our pre-season’s work.
As a group, we look more advanced than we did this time last year, and our new players have fitted in exceptionally well.
There’s a chance we could have four of them in action tonight, and that’s a very exciting prospect.
Lee Gilmour is an exceptional rugby league professional and has class written all over him, while Scott Grix, right, and Graeme Horne have added considerable class and depth to our squad. Their performances in our pre-season win at Castleford last Tuesday have shown that.
And then there’s David Fa’alogo, who many of the fans over here may not know too much about.
But, take it from me, he is going to be a big performer for us over the next few years.
When I played against him back in Australia, I made a point never to run at him!
He’s obviously had something of a disrupted pre-season because of his minor knee and ankle surgery, so it’s probably going to be about four to six weeks before he’s back to his best.
When he does, it’ll be great to see!
On top of that, he’s also having to contend with a new life on the other side of the world and adapting to a slightly different style of footy.
I think every Australian who first arrives struggle to adapt at first. I know it took me about a month into last season.
A major problem is getting used to the much heavier pitches in England. We find it’s difficult for your leg speed because you get fatigued earlier.
That’s something I’ve warned David about and, once he does, the opposition better watch out!
WHEN I first came back to England following my winter break back in Australia, I was asked if it had actually sunk in that I’d been named Super League Man of Steel.
At the time, I said it hadn’t but that it may change once I got settled back into the English regime.
Yet now, on the eve of the new season, I can honestly say it still hasn’t really hit me – and probably may not until I hang up my boots.
That’s simply because all the focus since Christmas has been on making sure we’re as well prepared as we possibly can for the start of the new campaign. That’s all we’ve been thinking about as a group.
Today's Examiner contains a 16-page special supplement to celebrate the start of the Giants' campaign in Super League XV.
In the full colour pull-out special you can find out who's the toughest Giant, what are the teams chances of topping last season's achievements and what the boys get up to in their spare time.
There's also exclusive interviews with Paul Whatuira, Kevin Brown and Lee Gilmour as well as a full colour double page Giants team photo and fixture list.
Plus, the start of the season wouldn't be the same without Jamahl Lolesi's guide to Super League. Last season the Hammer told us about his team mates, this season he takes us through the good, bad and ugly of Super League teams and players!
Grab a copy of the special 16-page pull out inside your Examiner newspaper today.