Jordan Rankin is confident Huddersfield Giants are finding their top form in Super League 2018.
The 26-year-old is looking for the Giants to start climbing the rankings – beginning with two more points from tonight’s showdown with Hull KR at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Giants go into the game on the back of a 28-16 away win at Widnes Vikings in the last round, and the Gold Coast-born utility player, who joined head coach Rick Stone’s squad in the middle of last season from NRL outfit Wests Tigers, is certain the side can build on that success.
“Widnes is a hard place to go and it was definitely an important win for us,” said Rankin.
“Especially at this stage of the season, we went there pretty desperate for the two points, so it was really good to get the win.
“In the period before Easter you are really looking to get as many points on the board as you can ahead of hitting that spell where you play three games in a week to 10 days.
“Injuries are almost bound to happen for every team in that period.
“So we need to take the opportunity to climb the table as far as possible – and a win against Hull KR wouldn’t be too bad a place to start.”
The clash with the Robins carries a little more importance for Rankin as his previous spell in Super League saw him score 194 points in 47 outings for Hull FC in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
“It’s a long time since I’ve played against them,” said Rankin. “The last time would be in 2015 when we beat them at Craven Park.
“Because of playing for Hull FC I think there is always that little bit more passion for me when it comes to facing Hull KR and I am looking forward to the game for sure.
“They have struggled a bit at the start of the season, I think it is always tough for a side coming up from the Championship to find their feet – but they have got some players on board.
“Obviously they have Danny McGuire whose talent we know all about, with his long run of years at Leeds.
“And Timmy Sheens is a quality coach and has been a top coach out in Australia for many years.
“Any side he coaches is going to come out of the blocks hard and throw some stuff at you.
“They are probably due to win a game at some point, but we have to make sure that it is not against us.”
While Rankin was brought to the Giants by Stone because he has filled a multitude of positions
during his career – operating at full-back, across the three-quarters and at half back – the player is delighted to have had stability in 2018 as he lines up in the halves with Danny Brough.
“It has been good to work in one position for the whole of the season so far, and I am feeling pretty comfortable with where I am playing,” explained Rankin.
“It is working well with Broughy and the combination seems to be coming along quite well.
“The big thing is finding consistency in the performances at half back because if you have that it helps the rest of the team.
“It helps put backs in the right positions to run some genuinely strong lines and allows the forwards to get on the front foot.
“We have had a lot of talks with the coaching staff about those issues, and obviously it worked at Widnes last week and we have got to keep taking that forward.”
The Brough-Rankin axis also gives the Giants a double-edged sword in terms of a kicking game – with the left-footed Brough and right-footed Rankin able to manoeuvre the ball round the ground very effectively.
“Broughy is experienced, spirited and a real competitor, and it has been good so far as we communicate well,” said Rankin.
“He relinquishes quite a bit of responsibility to me, which I am really happy about.
“I am glad to take a bit of weight off his shoulders and, hopefully, the partnership just keeps getting better.
“Broughy’s kicking game is second to none and everybody in the competition knows that.
“So I can help take some of the pressure off him, and it helps the team if we can both keep putting in better and better kicks.
“It is something that we have worked hard at through the pre-season and in the early rounds of Super League and it has definitely come along very well.
“We will keep working at that and, once the weather warms up, we will see an even more attacking style as the season goes on.”
However, Rankin is also keen to make the most of his own strengths and feels there is plenty more to come from the Giants this season.
“My running game is probably the strongest element of what I do,” added Rankin. “I have been looking to take every opportunity to run the ball that bit more.
“We perhaps need to be a little bit more dominant, it is all about getting on the front foot and allowing the players around you to do the same.”