YOUNG prop Nathan Mason is hoping the Giants’ season of adversity could prove the making of him as a Super League player.
The 22-year-old front-row forward has admitted he started the season expecting to make just a handful of senior Huddersfield appearances in 2016.
But Mason is poised to make his 10th first-team start of the season in tomorrow night’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round clash against Leeds Rhinos at the John Smith’s Stadium – and is confident of being part of a successful home side.
That confidence has grown on the back of his rock-solid 2016 showings, with Mason admitting that if it hadn’t been for the long-term injuries to fellow props Craig Huby (broken hand at the start of the year and now a three-month pectoral injury) and Daniel Smith (foot) he could have instead been spending his time on dual-registration at hometown club Oldham.
“We all feel for Craig and Daniel this season. It’s been really tough for them,” said Mason.
“But their injuries have ended up being massive for me in terms of my own personal development, I’m well aware of that.
“At the start of the season I never thought I’d be playing this many games, and the more I play, the more confident I’m feeling.
“But at the age of 22, I know I’m far from being the finished front-row product. I’m fully aware I’ve still got a lot of work to do to be getting anywhere near to that.
“At the moment I’m ‘doing all right’, that’s about as far as it goes. But I do feel I’m getting better with every game I play.
“My focus is on continuing to knuckle down, do what I can for the team and hope everything falls into place.
“I feel really fortunate that I’ve got two great and experienced props to help me along at the moment in Eorl Crabtree and Sam Rapira. The advice they give me, both during training and during the games themselves, is unbelievable.
“It’s also great that my coach was a front-row forward who’s done it at the highest level.
“He’s always passing on tips, and the fact he seems pleased with the way I’m playing is another major confidence-booster,
“Obviously, it’s not good to see us struggling near the foot of the table, but I do feel this is proving to be a very important year for me in trying to establish myself in the team.”
And the 6ft 5in, 110kg Mason knows that if he can help the Giants make Cup progress at the expense of the Rhinos that confidence will continue to grow.
“Beating Leeds in the League last Friday has
certainly put us in positive mood for this Friday,” he added.
“But there’s no way we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
“As the current holders, we expect Leeds to come out firing and do everything they can to defend their trophy. I also think they’ll be determined to beat us after we beat them last week.
“For that reason, we know we’ve got to be a lot better than we were last week.
“If we’re not, it’ll be them in the next round and not us.”