HUDDERSFIELD Giants captain Kevin Brown is relishing the new role coach Nathan Brown has fashioned for him.
The West Yorkshire club can swiftly return to the top of Super League this evening when even a draw against Catalan Dragons in Perpignan would be sufficient to usurp Wigan Warriors, winners last night against Hull KR.
One of the many contributing factors to their stellar start has been the emergence of stand-off Brown in an unfamiliar loose forward position.
It may have come as a surprise to many seeing Huddersfield’s attacking fulcrum switched to the pack given it was barely 18 months ago that he was representing England in his traditional No 6 slot.
But it has undoubtedly worked and, with Scott Grix thriving following his shift from full-back to stand-off, potent Huddersfield now possess four genuine ball-handlers with Danny Brough and Luke Robinson all in the mix.
“It’s been a little bit different but I’m really enjoying it and playing some good stuff,” Brown told the Yorkshire Post. “This is probably the most consistent I’ve played for a while and I’m pleased with how I’ve adapted.
“There’s a lot of different ways to play that loose forward role nowadays – either as an extra wide runner, ball handler or another prop. I remember when Andy Farrell did it at Wigan and he did a bit of everything.
“I’m completely different again but it suits my game. I’m more than happy to be at loose forward and I’m sure I’ll get more comfortable the longer I go at it.”
The 27-year-old is also more than happy with the form of his side as he attempts to become the first Huddersfield captain in 50 years to lift a league title.
They have lost just twice in their dozen Super League games so far and have progressed to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals where they have a favourable home draw against London Broncos.
Huddersfield now seem a far more rounded side to recent guises when they had often threatened to bid for silverware only to fall when it mattered most.
“We’re finding different ways of winning games whether it’s doing it in the wet on heavy tracks or on firmer ground,” Brown continued, the gutsy 20-6 success at a rain-drenched Bradford providing ample recent proof.
“That’s one thing we’ve certainly improved on. Also, in previous years, we’ve been able to defend really well but our attack might not be as good as we’ve wanted or vice versa.
“This year we’re happy with both. We know we’ve still got a lot of improvement to make as the other teams are all going to get better, such as Catalan, but also the likes of Hull and Saints.
“We all know what Leeds and Wigan can do but we’ve got to keep improving.”
Tonight’s fixture could be the litmus test of their development; 12 months ago, they were pipped 13-12 in Perpignan, just the sort of game this new, maturing team would now hope to win if found in similar circumstances.
It is likely to be tight again. Rugged Catalan have only lost one more game than Huddersfield. It could be one of the fixtures of the season so far.
Meanwhile, Giants assistant Paul Anderson, who takes over from Brown in November, is back from Australia where he picked up techniques and contacts from NRL coaches Des Hasler, Tim Sheens, Brian Smith and Matthew Elliott.