The major news from the Huddersfield Giants this week has obviously been the sudden retirement of Luke Robinson. What are your own thoughts on it all?
It’s a real mixture of emotions, to be honest.
It’s obviously been a tough time for him, but I personally think it’s good for Robbo, and I’m pleased for him.
Having to retire is something we sat down and spoke about at the end of last season. I spoke to Robbo about where he was at and whether he wanted to continue playing.
He said he did, because he felt he still had something to offer and I was only too pleased to go along with his wishes.
But throughout pre-season we tried and tried and tried to get him right, but it got to the point where we were stuck in the mud in regards to his hip problem not going away.
I remember going through a pretty similar process with Stuart Fielden the other year.
On both occasions, it got to the heartbreaking moment when it was almost like having to put a warrior out of their misery, so to speak.
It was the toughest of moments for both of them.
But in the case of Robbo, it was really taken out of his hands, because his specialist told him how serious the situation could become if he didn’t have major hip surgery as soon as possible. He was given a stark lifestyle choice.
As I said, I’d have gone along with whatever decision Robbo came to, because he’s a warrior and I’ve got nothing but respect for the man and what he’s done on and off the field. As his head coach and, earlier, his assistant, I’m very thankful for him for what he’s done for me and the Giants.
My challenge now as his coach is to make sure we help manage his transition to the next part of his life as successfully as we can.
Do you think that could involve the possibility of him joining the Giants coaching staff once he’s undergone his surgery?
There’s certainly the potential for that.
After all, he’s still contracted to the Giants for another couple of years, so we need to take a close look at that.
We, as a club, have historically done the right thing by people and have always intended honouring contracts, That’ll definitely be the case with Robbo.
He knows that once he’s undergone his surgery, he’ll sit down with myself, (managing director) Richard Thewlis and the rest of the board to discuss his next step.
Robbo has already spent a fair bit of time mentoring some of the younger blokes in the squad, and is great in that role. It’s something we need to think about very seriously.
Moving on to matters on the field. How’s Jamie Foster doing on his trial?
Well, he’s playing against Wigan at home tomorrow night.
He’s knows he’s been handed a golden opportunity with us and he seems determined to make the most of it.
He says he’s ready to play and is doing the right things in training, although he’s obviously been inactive for a while.
Having spent over a year out of the sport (he played rugby union with Doncaster Knights for several months last year) it is going to be a bit of a risk putting him straight in there, but we don’t really have much choice, given the current strength of the squad.
Having said that, I’m more concerned about talking about who’s in for us against Wigan, rather than who isn’t.
It would be quite easy for me to keep saying he’s out, he’s out etc, etc, and that we’ve got no chance.
But we’re not looking at it this way.
I’m focusing on the fact that over the next few weeks everyone will get the chance to see the future of the Giants, although we didn’t anticipate seeing so many of them this early in the season and all at the same time!
You've obviously got Jamie Foster in. How close were you to getting Hull FC full-back Curtis Naughton in on loan?
Well, he trained with us on Monday!
He’s a good kid and had settled in well.
But after training, I went back into my office and saw a missed call off Radders (Hull coach Lee Radford). I thought ‘oh, no!’
Unfortunately, circumstances over there dictated that they needed him back straight away, and there was obviously nothing I could do about that.
However, if something could be sorted out further down the line we’d certainly give it some very serious consideration.
And are there any further signings in the pipeline?
There’s nothing right now, but I can assure you’re we’re looking.
In fact, I don’t think there’s a phone battery long enough to get me through the day, given the amount of time I’m spending on the search for new players.
The big problem is that there simply aren’t the players out there right now.
It’s round two in Super League, and they haven’t even started playing in the Australian NRL yet, so it really is slim pickings.
But one thing I don’t do as head coach is resort to panic buying, because if you d that it can spoil your recruitment plans further down the line.
So, in the short term, the key is to remain patient and give the youngsters the chance to show everyone exactly what they can do.