After 12 months, it’s finally going to happen.
Oli Roberts will be making his Huddersfield Giants debut!
To say the 20-year-old back-row forward has been forced to play the waiting game would be an understatement.
After joining the Giants from Bradford Bulls on a two-year contract for the start of last season, the former Siddal junior was originally planned to make his Giants bow in last year’s pre-season clash against his former club at Odsal.
That game fell victim to an untimely winter blast, Roberts’ big chance to impress had gone, and he had been forced into playing a waiting game through no fault of his own.
Rather than having the chance to show what he could do in the claret and gold and immediately build on the four Super League appearances he’d made at Bradford, Roberts was left having to take the arduous route to force his way in.
And with the Giants’ Super League pack remaining largely injury-free throughout 2015, the Halifax-born youngster found his path to progress continually blocked.
Instead of performing on the top-flight stage, Roberts had a loan spell with Sheffield Eagles in the Championship and then played seven games for Huddersfield dual-registration partners Oldham as the Lancashire side won promotion to the Championship.
There was one big end-of-season consolation for Roberts, who was picked for Ireland and then starred for his country in last autumn’s European Championship campaign, with Giants and Irish teammate Scott Grix singing his praise from the rooftops.
But the young man himself knows it’s what he does when he finally makes his Giants debut this weekend that matters most.
“This game is massive for me,” he acknowledged.
“I really do need to get my foot in the door with the first team this year, and that starts by making sure I play well against Halifax.
“This is the time I’ve got to push and try and get a place.
“The competition here at the Giants is brilliant and at times it will be dog eat dog for places, but equally that is a team effort and I want to get my chance.
“Like everyone else in the squad, I’ve worked really hard throughout pre-season in a bid to get that chance.
“I feel fit and strong, and hopefully I can take the form I showed with Ireland straight into the pre-season games.”
Roberts knows those who impress at The Shay will get the chance to feature in next Sunday’s second trial clash at Hull KR for former Giants winger David Hodgson’s testimonial, with Huddersfield head coach Paul Anderson having an open mind over who may get the nod to make the trip to the east coast.
“Part of this game this weekend is for players to put themselves in contention for the game at Hull KR a week later,” added Anderson.
“The plan is to take a squad of about 24 or 25 across there, when a lot of those will be the so-called ‘bigger guns’. as well as some of those from the Halifax trial.
“That’ll then be narrowed down to about 19 for the final pre-season game at home to Catalans Dragons.
“So between now and then there’s a lot at stake for every player who gets their chance, starting from this weekend.”