Former Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown knows successor Paul Anderson will regard this season as something of a failure if Huddersfield don’t beat Hull tonight and go on to reach the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
But St Helens chief Brown is confident his old club can make further progress in the play-offs.
And he also feels it’s been a fantastic season for the men in claret and gold, regardless of tonight’s result.
The popular Australian admitted he was delighted to see his old club finish top of the table for the first time in 81 years at the end of the regular Super League season, with the Giants having continued to make steady top-flight progress during his three-and-a-half-years at the helm.
Brown is obviously hoping his Saints can ‘do a Leeds’ and win the Grand Final from a fifth-placed finish.
But despite last Thursday’s home qualifying play-off defeat to Wigan, Brown knows the Giants remain a massive play-off threat under Anderson.
“I said as soon as it was announced last year that Baloo (Paul Anderson) would be taking over from me that he was the right choice. I’m pleased I’ve been proven right,” said Brown.
“He’s done a fantastic job in anyone’s book.
“As an outsider looking in, I feel the reality is that if the Giants go on and win at Old Trafford it will be regarded as a great year, but it has still been a great year for Huddersfield even if they don’t.
“I’m sure Baloo and the players probably wouldn’t agree, because they want to go to the Grand Final.
“But as far as I’m concerned to finish first in any competition is a big achievement.
“It really takes a massive effort from the players, the coaches and the backroom staff over six months to come through top.
“Huddersfield have got better again this season and so long as there are people involved at the club willing to do the work they will win something big – whether it is this year or the next or the next, well none of us knows!
“This season Baloo has put the icing on the cake by winning something and the team has gone better again.
“A lot of people have helped ensure that progression behind the scenes, it is not like football where you can just throw millions of dollars at it. Huddersfield have improved gradually and it is a patient progression, and that’s the only way you can do it in rugby league.”
Brown took the Giants to within 80 minutes of the Old Trafford final in 2010, when they put up the bravest of resistance before losing at St Helens.
And he knows his former club is still in a strong position to compete in a qualifying semi-final in a week’s time.
“I know how much last week’s defeat to Wigan hurt Baloo and the players,” added Brown.
“It hit them hard and I’m sure they’ll use that as motivation against Hull tonight.
“They’ve proved what a quality side they are by lifting the League Leaders’ Shield, and I know how desperate they’ll be to prove that again tonight. I know they can do it.
“I also know that regardless of the result, Huddersfield will continue to grow as a force.
“Because of the steady progression the club has made over the years, Huddersfield are now able to attract top players.
“Once upon a time, players would have looked at Huddersfield but might have chosen other clubs. Now players want to come to Huddersfield, because they know it’s a club capable of winning major trophies.
“That’s something they’ve proved this year.”