PERHAPS ominously for Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants are truly ready to start their season now.
Anyone who saw them impressively destroy champions Wigan Warriors 24-8 at the DW Stadium over a fortnight ago would argue they already have.
However, last year’s League Leaders have had a disjointed opening given, no sooner had they swept past the Cherry and Whites, they were left contemplating last weekend off.
It is, of course, all because they started the campaign early as part of the fixture rejig formulated to allow Wigan’s flight out to Australia for today’s World Club Challenge.
But Huddersfield’s England prop Eorl Crabtree caused a stir by Tweeting “Thank god we got that friendly out the way, looking for the new season starting in two weeks ;-)”
As they prepare for that ‘start’ with Hull KR arriving at John Smith’s Stadium tomorrow, head coach Paul Anderson admitted to the Yorkshire Post: “It does feel a little bit like that.
“Eorl had some hammer on Twitter for something he said on there but, to be fair, the way things were set up, it wasn’t meant in any disrespect to Wigan.
“But the game did have that feeling about it as if to say ‘we’ve got a week off now and then we can hit round one’.
“That’s what it is. But, if you want to put all that effort into round one, then this (Hull KR) is it now and we have to do that.”
Ordinarily, getting two weeks on the training ground between games is something Super League coaches can only dream of.
But Anderson insists it can work both ways as he prepares his side to face a Rovers team that was vanquished 34-6 at home to Leeds Rhinos last Sunday.
“Sometimes it’s difficult as well as you have to try and control them,” said the reigning Coach of the Year.
“We trained on Monday and they were all a bit giddy as they’d had the weekend off and everyone else had been playing.
“So they were a bit excitable but that’s a good thing as you only have to control that rather than put it there.
“We’ve ripped in since and prepared well for a Hull KR side who will be looking to get a performance of their own.”
The East Yorkshire club were level 6-6 at the break last weekend before being out-manoeuvred by a Leeds side who saw ex-Hull FC winger Tom Briscoe get a hat-trick on debut.
“I didn’t go over there but when I watched it back you could see both sides had opportunities,” said Anderson.
“It’s just that Leeds took theirs. They were more clinical. I’m sure Craig (Sandercock) will be disappointed they scored some, what I’d describe as, soft tries.
“I’m sure he’ll have made them aware of some standards and what’s acceptable and what’s not this week. They’ll kick on and look to improve against us Sunday.
“They’ve made a lot of changes this season and signed a lot of experience through the middle, and in the halves as well with regards Kris Keating.
“But they have to try and get some combinations going and gelling.
“That’s the key for them and we’ll hope it’ll take them another week longer.”
The Huddersfield coach knows his side must improve, too, however, as the Wigan win was not as pitch-perfect as he would have liked.
“What I said to the players after that game is I cannot question their effort – and never have – or endeavour and that’s what won us it,” he added.
“Our edge defence and contact was pretty good. But we have to make sure it’s better every week.
“Defensively I thought we were really good but offensively we have to make sure we get the same intensity as I just thought we were a little too one-out and robbed ourselves of energy at times.”
In mitigation, they were down on energy in part due to the loss of second-row Larne Patrick to a knee injury on the stroke of half-time which will see him miss around three months of the season.
It is a bitter blow for the 25-year-old Wales international who was looking in menacing form after switching from his usual position of prop for the 2014 campaign.
“It’s the position he wants to play and with his explosiveness and leg speed it’s something he’s well capable of doing,” Anderson said.
“He was looking sharp so it’s unfortunate what happened but he’s in a good place and we have to accept that and move on.
“Jason Chan could be back this week if he comes through training unscathed so we have options and David Faiumu is available too,” he said.
“He had some shoulder surgery in the off-season and we decided not to play him at Wigan but he could come in for Hull KR.”
Papua New Guinea international second-row Chan and Faiumu, the hooker/loose forward, were, indeed, both included in the 19-man squad yesterday.
Kruise Leeming was also drafted in as one of three changes with Patrick sidelined, prop Anthony Mullally having switched to Bradford Bulls on loan and England hooker Shaun Lunt resting a sore ankle.