WELL, here we are on the verge of another Super League season.
I can tell you the boys are ready and chomping at the bit for the first game down at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday against Leeds Rhinos.
This year, Jamahl and myself are going to be giving you a weekly insight into the lives of professional rugby league players, along with the opportunity to ask the players questions.
So if you have anything you’ve always wanted to ask a Giants player, please send it to Chris Roberts at the Examiner offices, Queen Street South, Huddersfield.
We’ve called the column ‘Second Thoughts’, because Jammer and myself are both second-row forwards, and it’s our thoughts on what’s going on at Huddersfield Giants. Pretty clever, eh? Although it was my girlfriend Emily who came up with the idea!
As always, the pre-season period has been a tough one and, having started on October 15, the players are obviously keen to get back on the field to put into practice what we’ve been doing on the training field.
Looking at the statistics even surprised us how much we’ve done during this time.
Having calculated the average mileage we run in training sessions, by the time we begin the season we’ll have run the equivalent of five marathons. For the record a marathon is over 26 miles.
But that’s just half the story.
On top of that, we’ve completed weightlifting sessions having lifted 100 tons, and the internet tells me that’s the same weight as 57 fully grown rhinos! Whatever way you look at it, that’s pretty impressive!
However, nothing beats playing, so we are as excited as the fans to be getting the season under way this week.
The pre-season has allowed all the new players to settle in, here in Huddersfield, and make their individual personalities known.
George Gatis, the hooker from the New Zealand Warriors, has emerged as the Chef in the team.
Coming from a gastronomic background (his family runs a seafood restaurant in North Queensland), he has been keen to display his culinary skills for the boys, and he hasn’t disappointed!
On top of that, he has been showing his immense skill on the field, which makes me think he will quickly become a fans’ favourite.
The young boys promoted to the first-team squad have been repaying the faith the coaching staff have had in them, with huge efforts in the gym and out on the training field.
Bearing in mind the young boys had an extra couple of weeks added to their pre-season to ensure they were up to speed with things, they all seem to still have smiles on their faces, despite the effort they have had to put in.
The pre-season games have allowed the young lads to show what they are capable of.
Sam ‘The Colonel’ Barlow made around 20 carries in the Infirmary Cup game at Halifax, which is a massive effort for the big forward.
Sam has also caught the eye when on the pitch with his finger licking habit, often leaving the training pitch covered in mud apart from two fingers on his right hand, hence the nickname the boys have given him, the KFC Colonel!
James Martin and Chris Lawson are the other young forwards to have become full-time this year.
James has bulked up and the big second rower is sure to cause defences trouble this year with the great lines he runs.
Chris has also benefited from the extra gym work being a full-time player allows and has put on some size too.
That, combined with the glimpses of skill he has shown in training, mean we have another quality prop waiting in the wings for his chance at first-team action.
Michael Lawrence, Leroy Cudjoe, Danny Kirmond and Richard Lopag have all impressed in the backs, showing that we will have strength-in-depth in the back line also.
Despite being only 17 years old, Michael is looking to get more first-team action this time around after making his debut off the bench at Warrington last year.
His performances in the pre-season games show he is comfortable with the step up. Leroy has really impressed me during the pre-season period.
He has developed physically and his skill levels have gone through the roof and, after being a stand-out player in all the trial games, I’m sure that a first-team debut is just around the corner.
Danny, like me, has come from the National Leagues – in his case Featherstone Rovers – and shown that there is a real wealth of talent outside Super League.
He is strong and quick and, after scoring 25 tries last season, is another great finisher.
Richard has come to the club with a Guinness World Record for tryscoring, so this kid can certainly finish.
He has awesome footwork and is possibly the fastest guy at the club.
I’d like to see who would win a footrace between him and Rocket Rod Jensen. One thing I can tell you is that it would be close!
But now over to Jammer.
Like Andy said, the first three months of pre-season have been pretty packed with hard work and long days, but there have been some good laughs and banter.
Keith Mason crashing his new car first day of training while showing off, young Sam Barlow licking the skin off his finger as a nervous twitch, new boy George Gatis dressing like Jerry Sienfield and having more teeth than a great white shark, just to name a few!
The one that really stands out for me, though, has to be our pre-season camp.
While other Super League sides enjoyed the tranquillity of Spain, Italy and other exotic locations, us Huddersfield Giants ended up in a place called Worsley in Lancashire training in -2 degree weather, snowing, raining and sleeting.
To make things worse, we were sharing the field with a rugby union side and were running around in two feet of mud.
On the sidelines we had three bald coaches wrapped in big jackets with whistles and stop watches barking orders like generals.
So finally, if three months of gruelling training couldn’t break us, we are all looking forward to playing 80 tough minutes against the Leeds Rhinos this Sunday.