HUDDERSFIELD Giants will start the new Super League season with more internationals on their books than ever before.
Over a dozen of head coach Nathan Brown’s senior squad have earned full representative honours with a whole host of countries.
And they include two players who will start the new campaign on the back of appearing in last year’s World Cup competition in Australia.
The most eye-catching performances came from new recruit and back-row forward Simon Finnigan, who played a key role as Ireland reached the qualifying semi-final against Fiji, including a try-scoring display in his nation’s stunning 34-16 victory over Samoa.
Prop Paul Jackson was another to make an impact in the World Cup in the colours of Scotland.
The 30-year-old was named Scotland vice-captain and produced a trademark no-nonsense display as the Bravehearts secured a shock 18-16 victory over the much-fancied Fijians.
Giants hooker David Faiumu was also in Australia for the World Cup with the Samoan squad, but unfortunately didn’t feature in any of his country’s games.
But the 25-year-old has also in the past played for New Zealand and was in the Kiwi squad that toured Great Britain in 2007.
Also in that tour party was Huddersfield centre Paul Whatuira, who is by far the most experienced international on the Giants’ books.
The 27-year-old has 16 New Zealand Test caps to his name and scored four tries, the most significant of which was in the Kiwis’ stunning 24-0 Tri-Nations final triumph over Australia at Elland Road in 2005.
And that was also the year when popular back-rower Jamahl Lolesi made his one Test appearance for New Zealand.
However, the Giants also have their fair share of players who have been a part of the Great Britain and England scene.
Those include first-choice wingers Martin Aspinwall and David Hodgson, who are both at the very top of their field.
Aspinwall made his England debut in 2003 and was a member of their World Cup squad last season. He also toured Australia with Great Britain in 2006, although he only played in the warm-up game against Australian NRL side Newcastle Knights and missed out on a Lions’ spot.
Fellow flier Hodgson was also in England’s initial World Cup squad in 2008 and just missed out on final selection.
But Aspinwall’s former Wigan Academy teammate has played for Great Britain four times and, as the quickest man on the Giants’ books, will be looking to build on that total over the next few seasons.
And a third member of Huddersfield’s squad to be involved in the England set-up last year was prop Darrell Griffin.
The 27-year-old made his England debut in 2005 and produced a top performance in the big World Cup warm-up win over Wales at Doncaster, which suggests he could be closing in on a first Great Britain appearance.
Unfortunate to miss out on selection last season was fellow prop Eorl Crabtree, although he does have a total of nine England caps earned between 2004 and 2006, while another Huddersfield front-row forward, Keith Mason, has represented Wales.
Another to have turned out for England in the past is scrum half Luke Robinson, while half-back partner Kevin Brown has twice been in the Great Britain train-on squad (2005 and 2007).
Going one better than Brown, however, is loose-forward Stephen Wild, who won two Great Britain caps in 2004 and 2007 after being in the Lions’ train-on squad on three separate occasions. He has also made one England appearance.
And all of the Giants’ homegrown players will be setting their sights on claiming an England jersey for the end-of-season Four Nations tournament, which also features Australia, New Zealand and France.
But for that to be achieved, their first priority is obviously to have big Super League seasons with the Giants!