EORL CRABTREE is in a particular straight-talking mood.
In the space of just a few minutes, the Huddersfield Giants prop reveals he does not think his title-chasing side have “a killer punch at all”.
He also admits feeling Wigan Warriors, their opponents in the opening Super 8s game on Thursday night, were “very poor” earlier this year.
There is a reason why the former England international is a regular broadcast pundit; he likes to talk, give an opinion and is eloquent when doing so.
On the first subject, the answer arrives after a question about whether frustrating Huddersfield are ever going to find some rhythm this term.
They may have finished fourth again but, just like last year when they were third only a point off top, they have flattered to deceive with some of their bitty performances.
It is easy to understand why many feel they will still be unable to break their Grand Final duck and reach Old Trafford.
“It’s a strange one,” said Crabtree when asked if he feels Huddersfield will finally click in the Super 8s.
“In my head, I honestly don’t think we have that killer punch. Not at all.
“That sounds really negative and I’m not trying to be. But the positive spin is we’re grinding out wins.
“One of the things we said against Wakefield in our last match (34-24 home win against bottom club) was the fact we’re not putting teams away.
“We are just grinding them out. That’s what you have to do.
“There’s no one team we’ve put loads of points on and played really well against this year. We’ve always just come out thinking we could have done a heck of a lot more better.
“If we play like we did against Wakefield at Wigan on Thursday we have no chance; but we do know how to find a way to win games.”
The game at DW Stadium may only be the first of seven in the Super 8s but, for both sides, it is already massively important.
Huddersfield need to keep on winning given Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves are both chasing them down for that fourth spot – the last of the four semi-finals spots known at the end of 30 rounds.
Victory would also close the gap between themselves and Wigan in third to just one point.
Their hosts, though, are intent on victory to heap pressure on Leeds Rhinos and St Helens, the top two who gain home play-offs when the Super 8s are complete.
Asked if he sees Wigan – who have beaten Huddersfield twice in 2015 – as serious challengers, ever-present Crabtree admitted: “I wouldn’t have said so early on in the year.
“I thought they were very poor but they seem to be a little bit more disciplined at the moment and are playing well.
“They are a scary team to watch at times as they are so well structured and work together.
“The wingers out wide are fantastic and are scoring points for fun while Matty Smith’s in the middle directing around playing well again.
“They are definitely a team to watch out for having gone under the radar a bit this year. We know we have to match their tempo.
“We need to be ruthless in the Super 8s. It’s a word that everyone speaks about in sport and knowing how to get that mental state is pretty tough and it’s about making the right decisions at the right times.
“This is a good opportunity to test ourselves to see where we are.
“I’d rather have a really tough game at the beginning so we know what to address later on in, whether we need to improve or just keep rolling.”
The 32-year-old, who made his debut for home-town Huddersfield in 2000 and has seen countless versions of the play-offs, wants to wait before passing verdict on the Super 8s system.
“I am excited by it as a fan but I don’t know yet if it will be a success,” he added.
“I’ll tell you afterwards – see what attendances are, the impact on the game, stand back a little and have a look inside.
“I think it will be good but it makes us tough for us (as players) with an extra seven games against top teams.
“That’s more games than ever. But I can see why people are excited.”