Eorl Crabtree is predicting the Giants pack will be even stronger in 2014 – quite literally!
The front-row forward heads to Portugal with the rest of Huddersfield’s Super League squad today for what is guaranteed to be a punishing week of warm-weather training.
But with the Giants having already shown big physical improvements after a strong start to their pre-season work, Crabtree knows the quality of the sessions during their stay at the Brown’s Sports Complex on the Algarve should be higher than ever.
And the 31-year-old intends to lead the way after revealing he feels stronger than he has done in years – despite having undergone post-season elbow and ankle surgery.
“ As a squad, we really couldn’t be in much better shape ,” said Crabtree.
“I’ve been really impressed with the quality of work the boys have been producing, from the younger end of the squad through to the most experienced, including our new signings (London Broncos forwards Chris Bailey and Antonio Kaufusi, and Salford winger Jodie Broughton).
“The forwards have been lifting some very big weights, which means our pack should be stronger than ever next season. To be honest, that’s an exciting prospect.
“And I definitely know that’ll be the case for me.
“As soon as I was left out of the England World Cup squad I sorted out surgery on my elbow and ankle.
“Those both proved a success, which meant I’ve been able to spend a fair bit of time building up my strength.
“Personally, I think that’s paid off. My general fitness may not be as high as the other year – playing the full 80 minutes may now be a thing of the past – but I’m definitely stronger.
“Hopefully, that means I’ll be able to make more of an impact down the middle, which is what all the forwards are hoping to do next season.
“ Although we did win the Super League Leaders Shield last year , one of the improvements we hope to make in 2014 is being even more dominant as a pack.
“The signs are looking promising.”
Crabtree has also praised the work of the Giants fitness team in helping him and his teammates get into even better shape.
The popular prop initially spent time with rehabilitation conditioner Matt Green following his surgery before building up his fitness with head conditioner Greg Brown, and feels they deserve recognition.
“GB (Brown) and Matt have been absolutely brilliant,” added Crabtree.
“The work they do is fantastic, and it’s just a shame their efforts usually go unnoticed.
“But the players certainly appreciate what they do. They do put us through hell, but we know that in the long term it’s worth it.
“Without their contribution, we know we wouldn’t be so effective as a team.”