Former England hooker Shaun Lunt admits it is concerning that Huddersfield Giants have again failed to learn from their previous play-off experiences.
The West Yorkshire club’s season was ended by Friday’s narrow 18-16 loss at home to Catalan Dragons, who are now just 80 minutes away from becoming the first side to reach a Grand Final from as low as seventh.
Huddersfield, though, have lost 11 of their 14 play-off games since first qualifying in 2007 and a maiden Old Trafford appearance still eludes them.
Having been vanquished 57-4 at Wigan the previous week, it is also the third time they have finished in the top four only to then go on an waste both shots at progressing.
Lunt, part of the Giants side that finished top last season and someone who won a Grand Final while on loan at Leeds Rhinos in 2012, told The Yorkshire Post: “That is something we need to overcome.
“All the top teams would have been in this position at some point. Wigan and Leeds – both fantastic sides – have not had success overnight and had to have their losses first. That makes you stronger.
“But it does just seem to me we’re not learning from our losses. I was very confident going in that if we’d have won on Friday we’d have a real good crack at getting to the Grand Final.
“I really thought we were going to win. That’s no disrespect to Catalan who were superb and deserved victory but we trained well all week and felt ready.
“It just shows if teams want it more they will win; they had more zest and were hungrier.”
Indeed, Catalan twice came back from behind to snatch success having also won at Leeds in the opening round and they now head to league leaders St Helens on Thursday for the right to earn their own maiden Grand Final appearance.
Most of the opening quarter was played in half-light due to the power cut around an hour before kick-off that left parts of John Smith’s Stadium in darkness on Friday.
However, Lunt insisted: “It was the same for both sides and you have to deal with hurdles.
“That was not an excuse. The lights came back on and we’re paid to play rugby. I didn’t really notice it. It was more of problem for the back three as they couldn’t see the ball (from high kicks) ‘til later rather than earlier.
“We started off really well and felt good but they just played better. It is disappointing but credit to our boys; it’s been an absolute pleasure playing all year here and I’m looking forward to next season already.”
David Faiumu, however, won’t be a Giant in 2015. The club confirmed on Friday the Kiwi, who arrived from North Queensland Cowboys in 2008, is returning home to Australia.
Lunt added: “He came as a hooker but has been playing prop and has been outstanding there and at loose forward, too.
“I’m going to really miss him. He’s a fantastic bloke who’d do anything for you and has a beautiful family as well. Everyone knows about his big left-foot step but – even though I’ve trained with him all these years – I still don’t think anyone know how to stop it.”
Leeds Rhinos prop Jamie Peacock, Castleford Tigers hooker Daryl Clark, Warrington Wolves prop Chris Hill and St Helens hooker James Roby have all been short-listed for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award.