ANDY RALEIGH can’t wait to play in one of his ‘biggest’ games of the season.
The 31-year-old forward is set to face former club Huddersfield at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday in the colours of Wakefield.
It’s the first time Raleigh will have returned to his hometown club since his move to Belle Vue at the end of last season.
That brought the curtain down on his seven-year spell at the Giants, during which time Raleigh struck up very close friendships.
But the popular prop, who began his professional career in Huddersfield’s junior sides before spending two seasons at Hull KR, admits that will count for nothing this weekend – even though he’s bitterly disappointed at the way the Giants’ form has nose-dived in recent months and resulted in this week’s departure of head coach Nathan Brown.
In fact, inflicting further misery on his old club is top of his agenda!
“I was delighted to see the Giants start the season so strongly. They were worthy Super League leaders early on,” admitted Raleigh. “But I’ve been just as disappointed to see the way in which their form has deserted them and how they’ve slipped down the table (to seventh).
“Hopefully, (new coach) Paul Anderson can turn things around – although after Sunday, of course!
“Even though I was at the Giants such a long time, things move on, and now I’m a Wakefield player and I’m looking forward to the game and doing everything I can to help us get us another win.
“I’m really enjoying playing under (Wakefield coach) Richard Agar, and I think this move has been good for me.
“With so many new players coming into the side at the start of the year everyone was in the same boat, and that helped create a really good team spirit. Everyone gets on well and we are playing well for each other.
“As a result, we can’t wait to get out there this weekend.”
Raleigh could be one of three Giants from last season’s squad to be making a Galpharm return this weekend.
Danny Kirmond and Kyle Wood are also looking to feature for the Wildcats, although Raleigh has the fondest memories of the trio.
“My big memories are going to two Challenge Cup finals. That will always be special really,” he added.
“To be honest, I had a great time at Huddersfield from start to finish. I played there as a kid as well, playing in the juniors in the Under 18s and Under 21s, so I wasn’t just a full-time player.
“And during that time I’ve seen the way the club has progressed.
“Yes, they’re doing it tough right now, but they’re still a side packed with quality and capable of causing any team in the competition lots of damage.
“I think Danny Brough’s kicking is a massive thing for the Giants, he’s an exceptional kicker.
“Luke Robinson is a superb competitor and one of the toughest players I’ve played with.
“Beyond talking about those players, they are filled with quality. With the amount of players that are involved in the England Knights and the England set-up, it speaks for itself.”