Luke Robinson wants to win the Carnegie Challenge Cup as a thank-you gift to departing coach Nathan Brown.
The 26-year-old England scrum-half attributes the arrival of Australian Brown in 2008 as a turning point in not only his career but in helping turn the Giants into a top-four Super League side.
Brown will quit Huddersfield at the end of the season for St Helens and leaves the Galpharm with a team packed full of quality internationals.
But one thing that has eluded Brown is silverware, and Robinson is determined to solve that starting with tomorrow’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves.
“Nathan Brown has been fantastic for my career,” said Robinson. “For a fair few of us in 2008, our careers were kind of stalling, maybe having plateaued a little bit. Maybe we had lost a little direction.
“But when he came on board, he took the club to a consistent top-four level and also developed individual careers – including my own – so I am thankful for that.
“It would definitely be nice to return that by getting a winner’s medal for Nathan.”
Huddersfield’s best chance of silverware this season looks likely to be in the Cup and a trip to Wembley will see them face the winners of today’s other semi-final between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors.
For the Giants, who led Super League earlier this season, have crashed to seventh in the table after just one win in eight league matches.
With Brown leaving for Saints, and captain Kevin Brown being sold to Salford City Reds for 2013, many fans have been left wondering if the impending loss of the Giants’ two main leaders has contributed to their decline.
Robinson refuses to use that as an excuse and admits there have been several unspecified issues at Huddersfield which have been resolved after clear-the-air talks with Nathan Brown this week.
“People will always look at those things (coach and captain leaving),” said Halifax-born Robinson. “I don’t think this has been the problem, I don’t think it’s been one specific thing.
“I know that Nathan Brown is not a coach who suffers excuses really, so if the lads started using anything as an excuse he would be pretty quick to stamp his foot and throw water over those suggestions.
“I think that’s been the frustrating thing, it’s not been just one thing that’s created the lack of form. It’s been a multitude of things, or something we haven’t been able to put our finger on.”
Huddersfield’s problems came to a head last weekend with a humiliating 52-6 defeat to Castleford Tigers.
“We don’t like to dwell too much on the negatives (from Castleford), I don’t think we will play that badly again this season,” said the former Siddal junior.
“We had a few little issues and we have ironed them out this week, spoke about them and put them to bed. Hopefully, those clear-the-air talks will make everyone feel better about themselves.
“During Browny’s tenure at the club, we have always given everything and left everything out on the field. If we have been beat it’s not been by a lack of effort, but by a better team.
“We are not playing the greatest of rugby, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work that out. But we are literally just 80 minutes away from getting to Wembley and having the opportunity to win the Challenge Cup.
“If there was ever going to be a week when we need to put the wrongs of the last few weeks right, it’s this weekend.
“It’s been frustrating for a month or two now with the results. We haven’t become a bad team overnight. We were playing some fantastic stuff at the beginning of the year, turning over some top teams, so for our form to be in such contrast now has been frustrating more than anything else. There’s been a little bit of soul-searching, too.”
Robinson – who joined Giants from Salford in 2007 – expects a tough match against a Warrington side who have lifted the Cup in two out of the last three seasons, including a 2009 defeat of Huddersfield at Wembley.
It is one of two losers’ medals Robinson holds, and he is desperate to win tomorrow and then avoid a hat-trick come August 25. “A few of us here have got losers’ medals and I can tell you that the worst place to lose is in a final,” he said. “I have also got a Grand Final loser’s medal (with Wigan against Bradford) and they are all tucked away. I keep them with the rest of my medals, but they are right at the back of the cupboard.
“My friends who play amateur rugby remind me how fortunate I am to get even one of them, but I keep telling them having a loser’s medal doesn’t have the same feeling or carry the same weight.
“Every time I look at them I look at them with a bit of bitterness, as opposed to being proud. I would definitely like a winner’s medal before I retire.”
That feeling is shared by Leeds, who have not tasted Challenge Cup success since 1999.
The Rhinos have reached Wembley in the last two campaigns, but fell at the final hurdle.
Leeds are determined to gain revenge in today’s semi-final match against Wigan, who defeated them 28-18 in last year’s final.
“It’s a final of sorts,” said Leeds winger Ryan Hall. “There’s been a lot of hype about it, to raise awareness, so it’s going to be a big stage and it’s a big game to go with it.
“It’s the holders of the Challenge Cup versus the Super League champions in a semi-final, so it has got excitement written all over it. Hopefully, we can produce on the day.”
Semi-final build-up: Page 7.