THIS weekend’s Galpharm Stadium clash should be a fantastic occasion, with hundreds of children inside the stadium as part of the Kirklees Youth Games.
That will help provide a brilliant atmosphere inside the ground, and hopefully we’ll be able to put the icing on the cake with a Super League win over Bradford Bulls.
We’ve been involved in some fantastic clashes with our derby rivals over the years, and our two victories against them at the stadium last season were definitely some of the highlights of the 2007 campaign.
And with the season we’re having right now, we’d love to make it three home wins on the trot against my good mate Steve McNamara’s side. I’m sure everyone still has very fond memories of his time at the club and how he led us back into Super League as our captain in 2002.
We once again come into a game looking to bounce back from a disappointing Super League encounter.
OK, last Sunday’s defeat was at in-form St Helens, who have been scoring points for fun over the past few months. So, in that respect, 46-16 wasn’t exactly the end of the world.
But it was the manner of the defeat that was the biggest disappointment. We were the masters of our own downfall.
For the opening 30 minutes, we went toe-to-toe with Saints and, watching from the stands as I was continuing to recover from my ankle injury, I was delighted with what I saw.
However, in the final 10 minutes we conceded some soft tries on the back of conceding some disappointing penalties.
Yes, we did at times feel we were treated a little harshly by the referee, and when we watched the game afterwards we did all have open mouths at some of the decisions that were being made, but there’s no point dwelling on the calls that went against us.
We’ve got to focus on fixing up the things we did wrong, because we have control over that, and that means getting our defence back in order.
As I say, we did concede some soft tries, and those individuals who were responsible know who they are. I know they’re all determined to make amends this weekend and hopefully it’ll be good enough to get us back on the winning track.
It’s another tough game, as they all are in Super League, but I’ve always enjoyed playing against the Bulls.
Unfortunately, they’ve not collected any silverware for a couple of seasons now, with injuries and departures having taken their toll.
But they do seem to be finding a bit of form at just the right time, and we’re braced for the toughest possible challenge.
And there’s no doubt we’re determined to get back to winning ways.
Once again our performance dipped last weekend (at Saints) after it had been so promising the week before (at home to Harlequins), so we know how important it is to put in another solid display on Sunday.
Finishing this disappointing season with a flourish is now our top priority, and we all believe we possess the players capable of making that happen.
We have suffered a couple of big injury blows in the pack, with John Skandalis out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury and Eorl Crabtree sidelined for a month with a fractured finger.
But we’re finally looking exceptionally healthy in the backs.
As well as the return this weekend of Kev Brown (following a two-match ban) and myself (after an ankle injury), we also finally welcomed David Hodgson to the Giants after being sidelined for the past six months with a major knee injury.
His performance at St Helens was one of the positives we could take from the contest.
For a first run-out in such a long time I thought he did remarkably well.
He seemed to have little trouble fitting into the side – as I suppose you would expect from a Great Britain international – and there’s no doubt he will be a massive asset to us.
I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with him against Bradford on Sunday.
To come think of it, I’m looking forward to facing the Bulls full stop!