NATHAN BROWN admits the Giants will be taking a step into the unknown when they take on Catalans Dragons in their Super League opener in the South of France tonight.
While the Giants have competed in four pre-season games and new head coach Brown has been able to work on combinations for the start of 2009, the Dragons have had no such luck.
Storms in the South of France forced Catalans to abandon their two main pre-season work-outs, meaning Huddersfield have no form guide on their opening Super League XIV opponents.
That could obviously work in the Giants’ favour, with the Dragons and their new coach Kevin Walters having been unable to test themselves out in the competitive environment.
But Brown knows facing such an unknown quantity could present a major challenge.
“They’ve got a new coach (Walters) and a new half-back (Shane Perry from Brisbane Broncos), which are obviously two very key roles,” said Brown.
“But, unfortunately, there’s nofootage of how they’re doing. Not having played a meaningful warm-up game is obviously a blow for them, but it also doesn’t prepare us fully for what to expect.
“The No1 priority will always be to focus on what your team is doing, but it is good to know what your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses actually are so you can take the appropriate steps.
“That’s clearly not going to be the case on this occasion, although it’s clear to everyone that this game is going to be tough.
“They proved how strong they are last season by finishing third in the competition, and I’m sure they’ll be determined to build on that this time around.
“And the fact they’ve recruited players of the quality of (top Australian NRL duo) Jason Ryles and Steve Bell shows they are keen to keep improving. I fully expect Jason to be one of the top props in Super League.”
And Brown admits his prediction on that is by speaking from personal experience.
The 35-year-old coached Ryles at St George Dragons, as well as another of Catalans other top performers in full-back Clint Greenshields – another player he rates very highly.
“I’m not surprised Clint has done so well in Super League, because he’s a player of immense quality,” added Brown.
“But I can say that about any of the Australian players they have in their squad. Having seen them all when I was at St George I know how capable they are.”