So, you’ve started Super League XV with a win over Bradford Bulls at the Galpharm. You must be delighted about that?
Yes we are. It’s obviously good to have a win. Let’s just say, we’d rather have one from one rather than nought from one, and it’s given us an excellent platform on which to build our season.
And I thought we competed well throughout.
The effort in defence was there for everyone to see, especially when you think how we were starved of possession so much and were down to 12 men for 20 minutes of the second half.
On top of that, we lost Keith Mason (with a torn pectoral muscle) in the first minute of the game, which meant there was more pressure on our big blokes to have to keep defending. They all had to play big minutes, and did a great job for us.
I also feel our attack is starting to evolve. We didn’t have a great deal of chances, but we did take most of those that came our way, which is something else that was highly encouraging.
You must also have been pleased with how well everyone dug in when you were really up against it in the second half, and also with the fitness of the players during that tough time.
Definitely. Last year was built on our effort and commitment, and those qualities were very much in evidence again the other night.
In the face of such adversity, it could have been easy to have crumbled, but none of the players did, and they deserve tremendous credit for that.
Fitness-wise, some of the blokes were out on their feet by the end of the game but, overall, they seemed to do reasonably well.
And the most pleasing aspect about that was that some of the guys went into the game having only played 40 minutes in our one trial game at Castleford the previous week, so it was always going to be tough for them to get up to speed.
In contrast, Bradford had two or three hit-outs, so it was good to see our players get through the game the way they did.
Obviously one of the main talking points was the way referee Steve Ganson handled the game. You were fairly critical of his performance at the time, has anything changed now you’ve reviewed the game in detail?
I thought at the time the referee got a fair bit wrong, and I’ve seen nothing to change my opinion.
As I said at the time, I think Steve is a fine referee, but I was disappointed with his performance in the second half.
In the first half, I thought we deserved to be penalised. Some of our more experienced players contributed to five penalties, which is extremely disappointing.
But at the start of the second half we were very dominant and were all over them, but Steve allowed them to lie all over us, while every time we did something wrong he kept pointing to the (sin) bin.
That made it extremely difficult for us. However, it’s early days and, just like players, referees will take time to get up to speed. The players will improve and so will the referees.
But, as you said, you still had some issues over your own side’s discipline. Is that a concern at this stage?
I spoke to (referees chief) Stuart Cummings earlier in the week about what went on against Bradford, and he agreed with me in some areas, although he did have some advice for us in certain areas as well.
But, overall, holding down is not an issue with us.
Once again, Brett Hodgson shone out for you last Friday, and you must have also been pleased with the way the likes of younger players Leroy Cudjoe and Michael Lawrence performed, too.
Yes, there were a lot of very positive contributions.
As you say, Brett was right up there again. He played great, and we all know important he is for the team.
However, once again a lot of what he was able to do was on the back of how hard the blokes around him were working.
And it goes without saying that includes Leroy and Bruno (Lawrence).
Leroy couldn’t have really asked for a much better start to the season for us than scoring the two tries, and he’s only going to keep getting better.
He’s already made 40-odd senior appearances, and this experience will only add to his confidence.
That can also be said about Bruno.
Although he’s still only 19, he’s also made about the same number of first-team appearances as Leroy, which is outstanding.
Not only are they both outstanding young talents, they’re also locally-produced players, which is something of which the club should be proud.
Could you give us a quick update as to how the boys who are still in rehab are coming on. Are Danny Kirmond and Stephen Wild the next expected to return?
All being well.
Of the two, Wildy is probably going to be back a little bit sooner, hopefully in about three weeks.
They’re both recovering well following knee surgery and have been working extremely hard in a bid to get back as soon as possible.
Danny still has a few hurdles to jump over and has a few fitness issues to work on.
But he did, of course, have a major knee reconstruction, and there’s no point rushing players back from an operation like that.
On top of that, Danny will have a different role with us this year as a front-rower.
We’re looking forward to seeing how he goes.