HAVING manoeuvred themselves into a position of such strength, Huddersfield Giants vice-captain Brett Ferres insists his side will not now let their efforts go to waste.
They have been a consistent force this season, tucked in safely behind leaders Wigan Warriors for much of the year without ever getting the same level of acclaim.
That has never really bothered Paul Anderson’s squad. However, given their rivals’ recent downturn in form, Huddersfield suddenly now know if they win all seven of their remaining games they will finish top and lift the League Leaders’ Shield regardless of what Wigan do.
They have a favourable run-in too; after tomorrow’s game at Hull FC, all of the remaining matches – aside from a pivotal trip to Wigan on August 9 – are against sides currently outside of the top eight.
For a famous club that has long under-achieved, their last title coming in 1962, their destiny is firmly in their own hands as they venture towards the play-offs.
Second-row Ferres told the Yorkshire Post: “We’ve put ourselves in a good position and it’s pleasing we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to do something about it.
“We can mix it up at the top of the table and now it’s in our hands it’s up to us to put in the performances needed.
“As a group we’ve always known what we’re capable of even though people write Huddersfield off year after year.
“It’s down to us now to carry it on and do something special. We want to do it for the club, the fans and ourselves. We want to write our own end to this story of Giants 2013 and know we can’t take our eye off the ball at Hull.”
Hull, similarly well-backed financially and themselves striving for an elusive first title in 30 years, have fallen off the pace with successive losses against Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity.
“They are a funny side,” conceded Ferres, who made his England debut against the Exiles last month.
“On paper, Hull are very strong with some class players but they just don’t seem to be playing as well as they’re capable of in the last couple of weeks.
“They’ve been scratchy but I’m sure Peter Gentle will have had them working really hard this week to get a performance in against us and right those wrongs from Monday night. It should be interesting.”
Strangely, despite vanquishing Catalan Dragons 60-16 last Friday, Huddersfield feel like they need to atone too, perhaps a sign of their growing standards.
“It was a strange game,” added Ferres, who scored his first-ever senior hat-trick in the emphatic victory.
“It felt like we’d drawn afterwards and it was a different emotion to anything I’ve felt before.
“You looked at the scoreboard and it didn’t feel like we’d beaten them by that many.
“It blew out at the end and we were happy to score 60 points but we weren’t as pleased conceding those 16.
“For me, it was definitely a bit of a milestone getting those three tries. I’ve scored two plenty of times before but getting a hat-trick’s not something I’d really thought about.
“One of the lads ran up though after the second try and said I’d scored them pretty quick so I did think it’d be nice to go on and get that third.
“It’s not like football, though. I didn’t get the match ball or anything. I’d probably have to pay for it!”
The treble takes Ferres’s tally for the season to 12 in 21 games, underlining why he has come to the attention of England coach Steve McNamara and forged a reputation as one of Super League’s leading forwards.
Undoubtedly, since joining from Castleford last summer, the 27-year-old’s game has evolved markedly and he will be looking to enhance his growing international claims when facing two rivals in England’s ETS tomorrow.
“I got to meet Gaz (Ellis) again last week (with England) and he’s a quality player,” said Ferres, about the Hull captain who earned such acclaim in the NRL with Wests Tigers.
“He’s the one who you know will probably start in the back-row come the World Cup; you always want to do well against players of that calibre and maybe get one over him.
“Danny Tickle’s another in the Hull side going for an England place but I always think that sort of thing works itself out; if you’re performing well and everything’s going right then you don’t have to worry about it. There’ll be a bit of a battle on there but I won’t let it take over too much.”
It was Castleford’s surprise victory at Wigan last Friday, meanwhile, which opened up the race for top spot.
“I was happy to see them win,” added Ferres, who played at his hometown club for four years before moving across West Yorkshire last July.
“I still go down there as much as I can and they’ve done us a big favour beating Wigan to help us close the gap.
“It was a decent night all around last Friday and hopefully we’ll have another on Sunday.”
Huddersfield – who also face Warrington Wolves in a Challenge Cup quarter-final next weekend – should give a debut to new signing Kyle Wood tomorrow, the scrum-half/hooker who has rejoined the club from another of Ferres’s former sides Wakefield.