HAVING suffered relegation once before, Huddersfield Giants talisman Danny Brough is in no mood to endure the same fate again.
The gifted half-back was just 23 when, in 2006, Castleford Tigers slipped out of Super League in the cruellest of fashions at Wakefield.
Now, at 33 and having established himself as one of the competition’s finest players, he is battling to ensure his current club do not find themselves in the same unholy mess.
Huddersfield, who won the League Leaders’ Shield under Brough’s captaincy just three years ago, know their fate is, at least, in their own hands; win all three remaining Qualifiers games and they will be safe.
The only problem is that trio of contests is as arduous as it gets.
They head to Leigh Centurions today, Championship opponents admittedly but ones who have won all four games so far, including at top-flight opponents Hull KR a week ago and also against Super League’s Salford.
Huddersfield lost poorly at Salford but have beaten second-tier opposition Featherstone Rovers, Batley Bulldogs and London Broncos since.
The enormity of this afternoon’s game is not lost on Brough, who believes at least one Super League side is destined to be relegated.
“I think Leigh are pretty much guaranteed a Super League spot as it stands,” he said, with Neil Jukes’s side all but there if they prosper today.
“But we’ve got to go there and fight for our own Super League place now. They are there on merit and we need to be as well. We have to go to Leigh all guns blazing.
“Of course, after beating Hull KR last week, they’ll want to get another win in front of their own fans on Saturday.
“They have played some really good rugby and stuck to what they believe in.
“They deserve to be there and you can’t fault that.
“They’re a Super League team already when you look at them.
“The way we look at it, we’re facing three Super League clubs – Leigh, Leeds and Hull KR.”
Huddersfield need points to reach the top three and avoid the uncertainty of the sudden-death ‘Million-Pound Match’ between fourth and fifth for the final Super League place in 2017.
Brough does not need reminding of what relegation entails and said: “After that bad performance against Salford, the boys got together and sorted what we needed to be doing – working really hard to get out of this.
“We got some things off our chest. Players have mortgages to pay, people could lose jobs and we can’t let that happen.
“We’ve put three wins together now but we have to carry that on.”
Given only Leeds, of the four Super League sides involved in the Qualfiers, are really in tune and all but confirmed for top-flight football in 2017, there is real tension among the rest.
One example of that pressure is at Hull KR where 38-year-old head of rugby Jamie Peacock has come out of retirement to play at London tomorrow. Brough admitted: “They’re desperate and in desperate situations, desperate things can happen.”