THERE was a really positive buzz the moment Giants head coach Nathan Brown walked through the Galpharm Stadium doors for the first time in late October last year.
After spending five seasons in charge of top NRL club St George, the Australian arrived in Huddersfield charged with the task of taking the Giants to the next Super League level.
Having become the youngest coach in NRL history at the age of 29, it was clear to everyone former St George hooker Brown had a very special talent.
It was also clear, however, that this talent would be put firmly to the test at the Giants.
Brown was named the new head coach last summer following the sacking of Jon Sharp, who the club felt had taken the Giants as far as he could.
Under Sharp’s Huddersfield went to their first Challenge Cup final appearance for 44 years against St Helens at Twickenham in 2006 and the following season he helped the Giants reach the Super League play-offs for the first time with a highest finish of fifth.
The immediate question, therefore, was whether Brown had the capabilities to do even better.
It was obvious it wouldn’t be easy, particularly given the playing resources at his disposal compared to some of Super League’s more established powers.
But with Brown’s positive approach shining through from day one, it soon became clear almost anything could be possible under the new coaching regime.
With assistant coach Paul Anderson – who had worked so well in temporary charge with Keiron Purtill following Sharp’s departure – providing such a solid foundation on which Brown could build, the new head coach’s outstanding technical ability soon began to come to the fore, while under new head conditioner, fellow Australian Mark ‘Bumper’ Andrews, the squad’s fitness levels shot through the roof.
And when the season got under way it didn’t take too long before the Giants made their intentions clear.
By mid-March, Huddersfield had moved into a top eight play-off spot and were to remain there, and on Easter Monday they were up to second after a 30-8 victory at Hull KR.
Unfortunately, that position couldn’t be maintained, although by the end of a fantastic League campaign, Brown and his Giants were able to celebrate a record third-placed Super League finish.
That, of course, wasn’t the whole story.
The most exciting day of Huddersfield’s season was without doubt Saturday, August 29 at Wembley Stadium when the Giants faced Warrington Wolves in front of 76,560 in the Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
Obviously, that ended in disappointment with a 25-16 defeat, but being involved in the final of rugby league’s most famous knockout competition was special in itself.
And on the way, a magnificent 24-14 semi-final success over St Helens was achieved.
But that sort of form was unable to be maintained during a disappointing play-off campaign.
Huddersfield are still looking to win in that end-of-season competition for the first time after losing at St Helens and then at home to Catalans Dragons last Friday.
Brown’s next task, therefore, is to make sure that when a play-off spot is secured once again victory can finally be achieved.
Somehow, given the coach’s inspirational lead and the quality of the players that are coming in for 2010, that’s a target that should very soon be successfully met!