IT IS easy to say now that the returning Dale Ferguson should never have left Huddersfield Giants in the first place.
Not only did the Scotland international choose to depart at the end of 2013, when Huddersfield had just won the League Leaders’ Shield having finished top for the first time in 81 years, but he actually joined Bradford Bulls who, within 12 months, were relegated from the top-flight.
Furthermore, powerful back-row Ferguson went on to endure an injury-blighted and strife-ridden three seasons with the West Yorkshire club who twice went into administration during his stay and ended up going bust earlier this year.
By that point, though, he had long since agreed to re-join Huddersfield, with whom he made his ‘second’ debut in last Friday’s Super League opener at Widnes Vikings.
Having won that game 28-16, Giants are seeking a quick second victory of the season when Salford Red Devils arrive this evening.
Ferguson said: “I didn’t know things were going to happen as they eventually did.
“It was always hard leaving the Giants but I went to Bradford when they were in a strong position.
“Then it just spiralled downwards from there really.
“But that’s the past, I’m a Giants player now and just look forward to playing for them again.
“It was very enjoyable on Friday – a lot more so with getting a win in round one. I thought I did quite well and it was a good platform to build on.”
Having spent the last two seasons in the Championship, did Ferguson ever have any fears he would struggle to return to the top level with Rick Stone’s side?
“I had my self confidence that I could come back in,” insisted the 28 year-old, who has always retained that Super League quality.
“But I don’t want to let a lot of people down. I put a bit of pressure on myself, but I just enjoyed it at Widnes.
“It was quite easy to settle in –there was quite a few familiar faces and they brought five boys over from Bradford which made it a lot easier again.
“It’s been good being around the club – they’ve looked after me.
“Rick has trimmed me down a bit and they conditioning has been class. Coming from the Four Nations it’s just been enjoyable, getting my confidence back, and hopefully that showed against Widnes.”
Ferguson was part of the Scotland side who forced a famous and stunning 18-18 draw against Four Nations holders New Zealand in Workington last November and he hopes to play for them again in the World Cup Down Under later this year.
However, for now he is simply keen on reviving Huddersfield who unexpectedly fell into the bottom four last term.
“We’re going to aim high,” added the Pontefract-born player, who started his Super League career with Wakefield Trinity before joining Huddersfield in 2011.
“We all know where we want to be and we’re all on the same page striving for the same achievement. Salford have a big pack with a lot of strike on the edge.
“We need to nullify that as much as we can and if we compete well I think we’ll go well.
“Scotland is in the back of my mind long-term, but I just want to go week-by-week with the Giants. I just want to rip into Salford.” Ferguson, who scored 13 tries in 52 games for Bradford, debuted for Huddersfield last week along three other signings from Bulls – Alex Mellor, Lee Gaskell and Paul Clough. All four are set to feature again tonight against Salford, who lost 26-16 versus Wigan on Saturday.
For Huddersfield, it is the start of three successive home games with Ferguson’s former club Wakefield arriving next Friday and then Challenge Cup holders Hull FC on March 3.
Stone admits it is a great opportunity to not only pick up some early wins to avoid the embarrassment of last year but also boost attendances with the club traditionally struggling to attract fans to the John Smith’s Stadium.
The coach said: “We’re trying to engage something here. One of the main things is the style of play and the effort that we put in every week. I know that takes a bit of time to build but we understand that and we know that winning helps to build a crowd.
“If we put in another good performance in front of our home crowd, hopefully by the time we play Wakefield, we’ll get a few more in and we can build on that.
“You can’t win the competition in the first six weeks but you can make it hard for yourself if you don’t position yourself with a number of victories. Everyone’s start to the season is important.”