The next week could be “make or break” time for Super League clubs’ Super 8s ambitions.
That is the view of Kieron Purtill, assistant coach at Huddersfield Giants, with just four games remaining of the regular season.
Only two points divide the top three of Leeds Rhinos, St Helens and Wigan Warriors, while there is just four points which cover fourth-placed Giants to eighth-placed Hull KR.
The latter two clubs meet on Sunday, while Leeds face Saints tonight, and Wigan next Thursday.
Huddersfield then travel to Saints next Friday, and ninth-placed Hull FC – shock losers to bottom side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in midweek – welcome Castleford Tigers, in fifth spot, next Sunday.
It means, the next two weekends could go a long way to defining clubs’ seasons.
“The next 10 days is make-or-break for a lot of clubs in Super League, whether they are at the top or bottom,” said Purtill.
“Everyone seems to be playing each other these next two rounds.
“You can easily go from fourth to seventh or eighth, or eighth to third off the bottom.
“Like rugby league says, every minute counts, and it’s coming to fruition.
“We want to be in the top eight, but we are not happy just being there, we want to finish as high as possible.”
Huddersfield are refreshed after players were given last week off due to a blank weekend, while Hull KR will be playing their third game in 10 days.
“It’s always good to get a break, and it was important for us to to take this week and recuperate and re-energise everyone,” said Purtill.
“Everyone has come back in fresh and looking forward to kicking off the rest of the season.
“Everyone’s back fit and competition for places means everyone has to play well.
“That intensifies training sessions too as people are trying to impress. Hopefully, we will get the rewards from that on the field.”
The Giants No 2 watched the Robins’ midweek 34-28 win over Salford, and describes their next opponents as “a bit of a maverick side”.
He said: “We are looking forward to Hull KR. I watched their game against Salford on TV, they are a very good attacking team.
“Defensively, they have got a few issues.
“They are a bit of a maverick side, they can cause you problems from anywhere over the field. They have some fantastic players.
“I thought (on Tuesday) they might have looked a bit tired, after their game against Catalans, but they came out well and lasted the 80 minutes,” he added.
“It will be a good challenge for us.
“I am sure they won’t talk about fatigue, and we won’t, that’s an excuse and we will go into the game with the mindset that we need to win it,” added Purtill.