TOTAL devastation. That’s the emotion felt by everyone associated with the Giants after the nightmare events in the South of France seven days ago.
A 48-0 defeat against Catalans Dragons in Perpignan was obviously the low point of Huddersfield’s Super League XIII season, with players, coaches, fans and officials alike sharing the pain in fairly equal measure.
For many, the question now being asked in the wake of that very sorry setback is where do the Giants go from here?
Already, it’s looking a very tall order for the club to repeat last season’s feat of reaching the Super League play-offs, especially with away trips to the likes of Leeds, St Helens and Wigan still on the agenda.
But while there’s no doubt this season is proving hugely disappointing – with many fans calling for the head of Giants coach Jon Sharp – may be it is also time for a bit of a reality check.
Yes, some of the performances this year have been of a standard no-one can accept, with the no-show against the Dragons by far the most demoralising example. No-one should escape blame for that.
However, there have also been some strong performances too, most notably the superb win over Hull KR just two short weeks ago and the even bigger thrashing handed out to Castleford Tigers earlier in the season. Holding on to pip St Helens was also pretty special.
And, remember, if it hadn’t been for some disgraceful refereeing calls, the Giants would have added the home game against Wigan and the Millennium Magic fixture against Warrington to that list of achievements.
If that had been the case, then the Giants would now be just two League points off a top-six play-off spot!
That’s obviously where many fans believe Huddersfield should be, although in no way should that be a divine right for their club.
Although the Giants now possess arguably their best squad in decades, it shouldn’t be forgotten that due to salary-cap regulations, there are thought to be at least eight clubs in Super League who still spend more cash on their squad than Huddersfield.
Clubs like Leeds, Bradford, St Helens, Wigan, Hull and Warrington, who boast far bigger home attendances and generate greater income through sponsorship and merchandise sales, are the obvious examples.
And, over the course of the campaign, that’s bound to have a massive influence.
It’s clear those clubs with more strength-in-depth in their squads should be able to perform at a far more consistently high level – unless you’re poor old former coach Paul Cullen at Warrington Wolves, of course! – and that’s an area where the Giants are clearly falling flat on their faces.
For Huddersfield to be able to perform consistently well, they need to be able to field a virtually fully-fit squad week in, week out, and that’s clearly not happening.
For starters, all three of the Giants’ Great Britain internationals have spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines. Martin Aspinwall (knee injury) missed the first half of the season, David Hodgson (knee) is still waiting to make his debut and Stephen Wild hasn’t played since Good Friday because of a wrist injury.
Other key men have also had to sit out matches or been forced to play when they’ve been carrying knocks because of a relative lack of back-up, with the absence of prop John Skandalis (knee) at Catalans clearly a big factor in the way the contest unfolded that day.
On top of that, new hooker George Gatis quit the club two months ago to return to Australia to help salvage his family’s seafood business.
Some may regard these as excuses, while others may view them as some justification for such erratic performances.
But what can’t be excused is the reaction of a very small minority of fans before and after the Catalans game when the players and coaches were subjected to a barrage of abuse.
Yes, what happened during the game in the South of France was instantly forgettable and the anger shared by fans over the performance is a sign of how much they care for their cub, but some of the hostile reaction was unfortunately way over the top.
Remember, the Giants don’t lose on purpose.
As well as playing for professional pride, those Huddersfield staff involved seven days ago also have their livelihoods to consider, so for them, the stakes really couldn’t have been much higher.