THE play-offs are now effectively out of reach, but front-row forward Shannon Wakeman feels Huddersfield Giants can be happy with progress made over the second half of the Super League season.
Huddersfield won five and drew one of their final eight fixtures in the regular campaign to snatch the final place in the Super 8s ahead of last year’s league leaders Warrington Wolves.
Though a 24-16 home loss to Castleford Tigers last Friday left Giants five points adrift of fourth-placed Wakefield Trinity with just three rounds remaining, Wakeman is upbeat about prospects for 2018.
“That has been the theme for us this year,” said the 27-year-old Australian, who is in his first season at Huddersfield.
“We set ourselves a goal of making the top-eight and we did that.
“Then we just wanted to keep building and building for next year.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to do all season.
“This has been a building year for us.
“Next year we will come back better and stronger. Some of the signings we have made are real quality players.
“For me personally this year has been about learning about Super League and I feel I have improved a lot so I am excited for next year.”
Huddersfield led 12-6 at half-time against Castleford and Wakeman said the opening 40 minutes showed how much they have improved.
“It has been a tough season, but we have been playing really well recently and we are really proud of where we’ve come from,” he said.
“We had a slow start to the season, but we have been building all year. It was a shame to let that game slip, considering the position we are in.
“We would have to win all our games now and rely on other results [to get into the top-four] now.
“It is a bit disappointing, it would have been good to get into the semi-final, but Castleford are a class team.
“They spread the ball so well after an offload or a quick play-the-ball.
“Straight away they capitalise on that, they are a really good team so credit to them as well.”