FIT-AGAIN Shane Elford is hoping the Giants can kick-start their campaign at home to Castleford Tigers on Sunday and begin a rapid rise up the Super League ladder.
The pain of defeat is now the only thing holding the 30-year-old Australian back after an injury-hit first season at the club.
The former Wests Tigers star looked sharp in all of his side’s pre-season triumphs and has made a solid start in the tough opening Super League games against champions Leeds and Bradford.
But even though Elford shares the bitter disappointment of defeat, he is happy to be off the treatment table and back out on the pitch trying to help his teammates build on last season’s first play-off appearance.
“It feels good to be back playing and in the side,” said Elford, left.
“I had a really good off-season. I’m finally injury free, trained hard and feel great to have got the opening games under my belt.
“I just hope we can get that first win this week and then I will feel even better!
“Obviously, we were all disappointed to have been beaten by Leeds and Bradford, but we’re still confident we’ll soon turn things around.
“We’ve played two very good sides, and I don’t think you can knock our effort.
“Perhaps one of our major problems was that we were trying too hard at times.
“It was always going to be a difficult start, we knew that as soon as the fixture list came out, but the important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible.
“I think if we knuckle down we will get the result this weekend.
“We’ve put in a hard week’s training, which we needed to do, and cut out some of the little niggly things that are costing us at certain times.
“And I think we’re all ready to play, especially back at the Galpharm.
“Personally, I absolutely love playing here, you can’t beat playing at home in front of your own fans.
“But we know Castleford are a very dangerous side, as we discovered only too well in the pre-season game at their place.
“They got off to a very good start that day, so we will need to match them in the opening stages on Sunday and hopefully we can come away with the goods.”
In the last game at the Galpharm, the Giants obviously posted their Super League record crowd of 15,629 against champions Leeds and Elford admits the backing was something special.
“It was amazing playing in front of over 15,000 at the stadium,” he added.
“The fans are always fantastic but the extra few thousand that turned up really made it into a special atmosphere and shows that it’s a great time to be at the Giants.
“They were very loud out there and certainly played their part.
“All the players were disappointed in their performances that day and hopefully they will turn out to back us again against Castleford on Sunday, when we will be doing our utmost to put on a lot better show for them.”
Elford is already guaranteed another start this weekend as coach Jon Sharp has the option of fielding the same 17 on duty during the 38-12 defeat at Bradford six days ago.
Also in the initial 20-man squad are prop Keith Mason, Leroy Cudjoe and former Featherstone winger Danny Kirmond, who is named for the first time.
Castleford will go into the contest without former Giants duo Stuart Donlan (knee) and Ryan Clayton (shoulder), as well as the suspended Scott Moore.