EORL Crabtree finds himself standing out from the rest.
It seems a bizarre observation to make; the six foot six inch Huddersfield Giants prop has been doing just that for much of the last decade given his towering frame and distinctive long locks.
But it is for different reasons now. Anyone watching the club’s immense 40-4 destruction of St Helens a week ago was duly impressed by the Huddersfield pack’s fearsome performance, especially as they seemed to roll on and roll off countless body doubles to continue the bashing of their hapless opponents.
Every one of them looked like the Russian boxer Ivan Drago, memorably dubbed “a machine” in Rocky IV; lean, mean, towering forwards all built like the proverbial outhouse each with the same short back and sides.
The relentless and overpowering Stuart Fielden, Craig Kopczak, Luke O’Donnell and even Larne Patrick all eemed to be one and the same.
Crabtree was equally effective but is he going to fall into line and join their crew-cut look?
“I don’t follow the crowd,” he joked. “I stand out above everyone else and my look’s a little bit different.
“I think if I lost my hair I’d lose all my power so I’m keeping it.”
In all seriousness, though, the Huddersfield pack has never looked so intimidating.
As they prepare for their first home game against London Broncos tomorrow, it is Crabtree who is the chief beneficiary of the arrival of players such as Fielden and Kopczak.
It was no secret he had to work overtime last season, in the England forward’s finest campaign yet, to propel Huddersfield forward and often on a lone furrow.
“Last year we didn’t really have that many forwards and we had a few injuries too but this one we seem to have teams of them,” he added.
“Stuart Fielden and Craig Kopczak are, for me, two of the best props in the league and we managed to get them both which is brilliant.
“With me and Larne coming off the bench and Luke O’Donnell, Brett Ferres – one of the best young forwards coming through in this country – and Jason Chan we seem to have real quality.
“Personally, I had a big year last year but that was probably down to the fact I needed to.
“The pressure is off me a little now. Saturday was my first real hit out and I didn’t feel 100 per cent but that didn’t matter; I didn’t need to do anything special as there was so many others around me.”
Huddersfield are, indeed, spoiled rotten with Ukuma Ta’ai, the ex-New Zealand Warriors second-row labelled ‘The Beast’ having arrived – “he’s another who’s not small” – and gone straight into tomorrow’s 19-man squad.
Of course, Huddersfield have a habit of starting their season well and then falling flat so there is no one singing from on high that they will finally crack the Super League Big Four this term.
Crabtree, 30, said: “I was a little shocked at how well we went at Saints.
“We knew we went in as massive underdogs but quietly realised we wouldn’t be too far off. We hadn’t played our full squad together but went out there and really delivered.
“It was really unusual and I don’t think Saints will lose like that again throughout the whole season.
“But we all we know we were here the same last year.
“We had the stability in the camp and the club, everyone was happy but as we progressed through the year that messed up with people coming and going. Things weren’t quite right.
“The key this time is, if we can keep that stability throughout the year, we’ll be a lot better.”
Head coach Paul Anderson has certainly made an instant impression as he begins his first full season in charge at the Galpharm and the odds are stacked in their favour for a win tomorrow.
Huddersfield have won their last 11 games against the club from the capital, last losing out almost five years ago when they slumped 24-0 at Twickenham Stoop.
However, the visitors have a sizeable pack of their own with Crabtree having particularly painful memories of a recent encounter with their Queensland enforcer.
“(Antonio) Kaufusi put one of the biggest hits I’ve ever had on me last year,” he recalled.
“It killed me. It was one of those when the head hit the chin and you just wake up on the floor.
“Looking back it was awful so London do definitely have some size about them but it’s about us playing well.
“I don’t think we were perfect last week and there’s a few areas we weren’t quite on the money,” he said.
“We have to remedy that on Sunday and it’s big game as we have Wigan down here the week after too.”