Jermaine McGillvary believes last season’s success has led to Huddersfield Giants being complacent in this year’s First Utility Super League.
The flying winger was part of a Giants side that finished top of Super League last season, their consistency rewarded over the six-month campaign.
Despite a painful exit in the end-of-season play-offs, it was a superb first full campaign in charge for coach Paul Anderson.
But after picking up just one win in their opening four games this term, Huddersfield-born McGillvary believes the players have to take responsibility.
The Giants impressed in a 24-8 victory over last season’s Grand Final winners, Wigan Warriors, but have since failed to win.
Hull KR held them to a 24-24 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium, before a 22-20 reverse at Widnes Vikings.
Huddersfield improved in a 12-12 stalemate with Leeds Rhinos, but McGillvary believes that complacency has been their downfall.
“We started the season off really well, but then we had a little blip,” the 25-year-old said.
“Probably our attitude wasn’t up to scratch in those two games – against Hull KR and Widnes – and on the day they played better than us.
“The performance against Leeds – even though we didn’t get a win – was a lot better. We can take positives from that and build on it.
“We need to take that and build on it throughout the season, get better and better.
“It was just complacency. Not taking anything away from Widnes or Hull KR, they were simply better for large periods of the game.
“But I could just tell – myself included – that we thought we could just turn up and win.
“Most of us didn’t play to the best of our ability, and if most of the team isn’t up to scratch you are going to get turned over by anybody in this league.
“It was our own fault. We need to look at ourselves as individuals. We did, and turned up against Leeds and put in a better performance.
“We had four ‘tries’ disallowed, wrongly or rightly, but Leeds are a quality team. They hit the posts with a drop-goal (attempt), so probably say they could have won, so a draw was a fair result.
“It was a good, intense game and both teams played really well.”
Finishing as league leaders last season has left the Giants with a big target on their back, and McGillvary has noticed opposition teams are raising their intensity in games. “That’s the case,” he said. “That’s why we lost to Widnes and drew with Hull KR.
“Teams look at us – we came top of the league last year – so are looking at us, and thinking, ‘let’s see how good we can go against these boys’.
“When Hull KR got the draw against us they were cheering like they had won the Grand Final.
“You can see how far we have come, we are a good side now. If teams like that beat us, it’s a big scalp for them.”
McGillvary has scored four tries this campaign – including a hat-trick against Wigan – and believes he has benefited from a good pre-season.
He said: “I’m happy, I just need to try and get more consistency in my game. That’s what I have been working on in the off-season.
“Some games I have let myself down, so have been concentrating on my own job, and am reaping the rewards this year, so far.
“There’s fierce competition here, which keeps us all on our toes. I am confident in my ability, I said if I didn’t start this season I would be disappointed.”
Tomorrow, Huddersfield travel to neighbours Bradford Bulls, a side who are embroiled in administration and off-the-field uncertainty.
McGillvary is friends with several of the Bulls players, and has sympathy for their plight – although he expects nothing less than an on-field battle come kick-off at Odsal.
“I know a couple of players (at Bradford) and it does affect them,” he said. “Especially the ones with families, kids.
“They are like a wounded animal now. Before, when they were in trouble, they won six or seven games in a row so it won’t take away from their performance on the field.
“But I do feel sorry for them. Off the field they have mortgages and things to pay for. Their performances though, they will always work hard for each other, so they will be good at the weekend.
“Any team in the league, if you think you can just turn up, they will beat you. We have already seen that this season, including ourselves.”