HERE we go again, another rugby league season is upon us.
The preparations for Super League XIV have all but been completed and it feels like a lot has already happened during this year – a new compliment of coaching staff has come and placed their stamp on the giants.
Visa problems have also played their part in the build up to the new season.
Todd Carney didn’t make it here and Jamma had an extended end of season break because of the new visa system.
He tells me it was tough training out in Oz on his own – my heart bleeds for him – as he managed to miss the first round of arctic conditions we had in December. I’d take running on Coogee beach over a frosty Leeds Road in the depths of winter any day!
Nathan Brown’s arrival has been a real boost for everyone in the club this pre-season, with everyone keen to impress and show that they can fit in with his plans.
I’m sure his coaching will bring the best out of the squad and I personally feel I’ve learned a lot in the short time he has been in charge.
Training has been as tough as I can ever remember, but at the same time the element of enjoyment has been ever present.
Mark ‘Bumper’ Andrews, the new conditioner, has got all the lads in great shape and is keen to tell anyone who will to listen that our new physiques are a result of his training regime called ‘Body by Bumper’.
The pre-season saw a number of new faces arrive in the playing department, I’ll now give you a little insight into who they are:
Brett Hodgson ‘Monty Burns’ has brought more Wests Tigers grand final winning experience to the team. His confidence under the high ball is going to be a massive addition to the team, as well as his organisation in defence and dynamic attacking play.
Simon Finnigan Fresh from Ireland’s World cup campaign, Simon has joined the Lancashire bus which crosses the Pennines every day. Finny has settled in straight away with the banter and will bring his speed and great support play to the pack this year.
Michael Korkidas He has instantly shown himself to be a real character in and around training. Not shy of a bit of banter, Korky showed great form in the Cas friendly with some strong running. I’m confident we will see him hit his best form yet in Super League XIV.
Scott Moore Another big character to have joined the squad this time round. His boundless energy has everyone wondering what he eats for breakfast. Still only 21, Scott seems to have been around for ages after his debut for St Helens aged just 16! Scott has shown awesome talent in the hooking role, as well as being one of the fittest lads in the club.
Jermaine McGillvary He has really impressed me since he came into the squad mid-way through last year. His effort away from training coupled with his performances while on loan last year, have earned him a full-time contract this time round. Exciting with ball in hand, I hope to see him debut on the wing soon.
Shaun Lunt The Cumbrian hooker has really worked hard this pre-season, impressing everyone with his fitness levels and ball skills. The fittest lad in the team, Lunty got a great performance under his belt against Batley last week, scoring his first try for the Giants.
Keal Carlile Another hooker, Keal is blessed with one of the best names in rugby league. He already has an impressive CV aged just 18. Last year he debuted for the Bradford Bulls as well as representing the England Academy side in Australia alongside Michael Lawrence. Once he has completed his rehab for his shoulder injury, we are expecting big things from Keal.
Larne Patrick Another newcomer with an original name. Playing in the back row or at prop, Larne comes to the club after a year playing in Australia with Narrabee Sharks. A big strong lad, Larne will no doubt be pushing for a first-team spot this year.
Joe Walsh He comes to the club from Harlequins having started his rugby league education at the Leeds Rhinos academy, where he achieved England representative honours from Under 15 up to Academy level. The mercurial second rower’s high workrate stood out during the friendly game at Castleford. Joe’s interesting dress sense has also set him apart from the rest of the lads, wearing women’s Ugg boots is apparently in fashion!
Josh Griffin Darrell’s younger brother and has joined the club from Wakefield Wildcats. Aged only 18 he will want to earn some first-team experience this year, having made his Super League debut on the wing last year with Wakefield.