THERE is a look of resignation on David Faiumu’s face. Or is it bemusement?
The Huddersfield Giants forward is shaking his head trying to answer questions about his club’s sobering capitulation to champions Wigan Warriors.
How does a side that finished level in the table with their rivals after 27 regular rounds of the Super League season – and actually defeated them twice – then suffer such a vanquishing when it comes to the opening round of play-offs?
“Everything went wrong right from the kick-off,” Faiumu told The Yorkshire Post, Huddersfield’s notoriously weak form when it comes to the end-of-season finale, rearing its ugly head once more.
“It was a bad start, a slow start; there was no intensity from us.
“The pressure valve was just too huge for us to handle.
“They (Wigan) played outstandingly. We had no answer for the onslaught.
“That’s everyone from one to 17. We need to put our hands up and say we played badly. Now we just regroup.”
The current play-offs format mean that third-placed Huddersfield do gain a second chance to rescue their season at John Smith’s Stadium on Thursday or Friday.
They will know who their opponents will be once the victors of today’s elimination play-offs between Warrington Wolves versus Widnes Vikings and Leeds Rhinos against Catalan Dragons are known.
Faiumu, the ex-Kiwi hooker/back-row now in his seventh season with the Fartowners having joined from North Queensland Cowboys at the end of 2007, insists he was not shocked by the physicality of Wigan who gave Huddersfield’s forwards so little leeway.
“Personally, I wasn’t surprised,” he said, even his famous sidestep proving powerless in the grasp of Shaun Wane’s dedicated, determined and ruthless side. “When you play against champion teams, you’ve got to handle that pressure.
“That’s finals football for you. If you don’t get with the heat, you get badly exposed like we did today.
“We’ve got the calibre of players to handle it but we just need to put it together one to 17. It can’t be eight of us. It has to be every one of this team and if we don’t we’ll get burnt again.
“We’ll regroup, get stronger get together collectively and get up for next week.
“It doesn’t matter who we play; the intensity will be the same as this and if we start like that again we’ll be in for a tough night.”
Faiumu is increasingly desperate to reach and win a Super League Grand Final with his adopted home of Huddersfield.
His only previous experience of an event of that kind is being on the losing side when North Queensland Cowboys made their first NRL Grand Final in 2005 but fell to Wests Tigers.
“It is frustrating,” he said, Huddersfield having finished top last season but then failed to navigate their way to Old Trafford.
“I started when I was 17. I’m 31 now and would love to get some silverware and finish on a high. I’ve not got many years left.
“I’ll get one shot at it next week and I’ll take everything into that.”
If he ever needs reminding of the beauty of this sport, though, Faiumu need only look back to 2005 again.
Shortly after that Grand Final defeat, the then 22-year-old was part of an historic New Zealand team that became the first side to defeat Australia in a series or tour since 1978. Miracles can happen. And Huddersfield know they can recover from this substantial setback.
Head coach Paul Anderson, meanwhile, says they simply have to, more than anything because of their suffering but vocal supporters at the DW Stadium.
“I was embarrassed for our fans,” he said.
“This club gets hammered for its crowd numbers but there was plenty at Wigan and they kept going and going.
“We gave them nothing to shout about. We owe them.”
Meanwhile, captain Danny Brough is expected to be fit in time to play next week after missing the last two games with a swollen testicle. Chris Bailey and Jodie Broughton, both dropped at Wigan, are also pushing for recalls.