HUDDERSFIELD Giants coach Paul Anderson has learned to expect the unexpected from Bradford Bulls.
Things might have changed a lot since his days at Odsal when, as part of the ‘Awesome Foursome’ prop rotation, he helped regularly destroy Super League defences.
Indeed, nowadays Bradford struggle for one fit front-rower let alone a quartet of international props like they had when Anderson, Brian McDermott, Joe Vagana and Stuart Fielden brought silverware galore in the late Nineties and early part of this millennium. However, for all their recent travails and sitting joint-bottom with London Broncos, he knows his former club remain potent especially on the back of a heavy defeat.
Bradford were embarrassed 50-0 at home to St Helens on Sunday and Anderson expects them to respond when the West Yorkshire rivals meet at Magic Weekend in Manchester tomorrow.
“Bradford are dangerous and they’re wounded at the moment,” he said. “Obviously they’ve played well in some games and not so well in others. What they managed to do last time they were beaten heavily – 84-6 at Wigan – was turn that into a big win against Warrington the following week, a team that was in last year’s Grand Final. We know they can do that sort of thing but hopefully we’re going to arrest that trend, as we don’t want them to turn a 50-point loss into a victory against us this weekend.”
It is important they do achieve their aim as Huddersfield have, crucially, discovered some form of their own lately.
The win at London last week was a fourth successive victory as the 2013 League Leaders’ Shield victors continue their re-emergence from a dire start to the campaign.
That success, though, came at a cost with full-back Jake Connor and winger Jermaine McGillvary both suffering injuries which see them sidelined tomorrow. “Against the Broncos we were faced with adversity which is all good for confidence when you lose centres, wingers and full-backs in games,” said Anderson.
“It’s important that we build on that confidence now.
“We know we’ve got some improvement in us and we know we’ve got to improve, but we’ve just got to now keep going and keep our attention on what we can do well.
“It’s an exciting platform to play on at Manchester and an exciting venue. We’re looking forward to it.”
Huddersfield welcome back Brett Ferres after the England second-row’s five-game ban plus Luke Robinson and Scott Grix.
For Bradford, prop Manase Manuokafoa has been ruled out while on-loan Huddersfield front-row Antonio Kaufusi is not allowed to play – “I’m generous but not daft” said Anderson – meaning they miss three props given France international Jamal Fakir is also injured.
Ex-Huddersfield second-row Dale Ferguson is also missing along with Matty Blythe, Brett Kearney and Oliver Roberts but England Knights scrum-half Luke Gale and back-row James Donaldson return as Bradford seek to avenge March’s 66-18 defeat at Odsal.