Giants chief convinced club will feel benefit of his Great Britain call-up
ROOKIE international coach Jon Sharp is relishing his role with Great Britain's rugby league team.
And the Giants chief is convinced the experience he will gain during the Gillette Tri-Nations Series clashes with Australia and New Zealand will help Huddersfield reach new heights in next season's Tetley's Super League.
The Lions call has come early for the 37-year-old former Hull player, who has just completed his first full season as a head coach by guiding the Giants to their best-ever Super League finish of seventh.
And he's determined to make the most of reaching the latest point on a learning curve which began when he took charge of Featherstone's Academy team at the age of 29.
"Any kind of international call, whether as a player or coach, is a big achievement and a matter of great pride," said Sharp, who progressed from his Post Office Road role to be right-hand man to Andy Kelly at Wakefield, Tony Smith at the Giants and Ian Millward at St Helens before succeeding Smith as head coach of Huddersfield.
Now Sharp, who also had a short stint in charge of Batley, is one of two assistants to Great Britain head coach Brian Noble, himself new to the national job.
The other is Graham Steadman, and the former Castleford supremo, England coach Karl Harrison and Sharp have been busy preparing players for the matches ahead while Noble was taken up with his Bradford team's unsuccessful bid to win the Super League Grand Final against Leeds last Saturday.
"Graham, Karl and myself have been handling the `fall-out programme' which is designed to keep the players in contention for international action but not involved in the play-offs up to pace," explained Sharp.
"We've been in regular contact with Brian to keep him informed about each player's progress, and it's been a pleasure to coach a set of individuals who have been very receptive to our thoughts and willing to work very hard."
The selections for the 24-strong Great Britain squad and the 20-strong England squad for the European Nations Cup, which includes Giants duo Eorl Crabtree and Stuart Jones, were finalised after the Grand Final and announced to a packed press conference at the Holiday Inn at Brighouse on Monday.
This morning, the Great Britain squad jetted out to Spain for a five-day warm weather training camp, where the Tri-Nations build-up will begin in earnest.
"It's going to be a crucial spell for us," added Sharp.
"Australia and New Zealand have already begun their campaigns (they drew 16-16 all in the series opener in Auckland on Saturday and meet against at QPR's Loftus Road stadium this Saturday).
"Because of the Grand Final, this will be the first chance for us to work with the whole squad, and it's all about gelling and re-energising.
"We want some warm weather and no distractions, and hopefully we've picked the right location."
While the players prepare for the first engagement, against Australia at the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday, October 30, Sharp is relishing the chance of working closely with Noble and Steadman.
"I played against both of them back in the dim and distant and we've obviously come up against each other as coaches of Super League clubs, but this is a new dimension, and it's an exciting prospect," he said.
"While our basic philosophies on coaching are similar, we each have our own ideas and methods as well, and it will be interesting to see how the other two work and to bounce ideas off each other.
"We've already worked closely in putting together a squad which we believe his the right mix to make a success of the Tri-Nations.
"Now we'll get down to the nitty-gritty of actually working with the best group of rugby league players in the country, and to do that is a privilege.
"Getting to know the players, find out what makes them tick and how to bring the best out of them is an exciting prospect, and as a coach, I can only benefit.
"Even though we don't have any players in this Great Britain squad, the Giants will still benefit because hopefully I will come out of the experience a better coach."