Solid defence will be at the heart of Huddersfield Giants’ Super League challenge this season.
That’s the priority of head coach Rick Stone as he looks to make an early impact in the standings.
With the big kick-off against Widnes just hours away, Stone is ready for the next chapter of his claret and gold story – having guided them to safety in the Middle 8s and worked since November to instil improvements.
“It’s all going to take a little bit of time, but I am confident we will be better than last year and we’ll
continue to improve as we go along this time,” said Stone, whose side warmed up with a quality 12-0 win at Warrington.
“Hopefully, there will then be more improvement in us after that.
“I think the starting point is defence, because we were conceding far too many points on a regular basis.
“When you look at the top sides and those big games at the top end of the competition – your semi-finals, Grand Finals and Challenge Cups – there were not a lot of points scored.
“We were looking at conceding up to 25 points per game on average and that’s far too much, so we have to bring that back.
“As a team, we seem to score points readily enough, but we still have to defend and show a bit more resolve and more consistency in our defending.
“It will help to stop putting pressure on ourselves, too, with some of the fundamental errors which were being committed, so we’ve been working on rectifying that as well.”
So is a top-eight placing the minimum requirement for this season?
“That’s probably the thing everyone is looking at and, out of 12 teams, you would like to think you can make the top eight,” answered the coach.
“That gives you a springboard into the next stage of the competition, and that’s what we are shooting at.
“We could maybe do with a bit of luck on injuries, too, because our first five or six games are going to be really important to get us a bit of continuity and confidence, and get us some confidence heading into the season.
“So we are going to put a bit of emphasis on our first four to six games and make sure we put our best foot forward and, hopefully, we can grow in confidence as the season goes on.”