Huddersfield Giants aim to hit the ground running against Leeds Rhinos trumpets coach Simon Woolford

AFTER avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, Huddersfield Giants could be leading the Super League table come Sunday evening.

Huddersfield Giants head coach Simon Woolford. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Simon Woolford’s side are among the first clubs to get their season back under way when they face Leeds Rhinos at Emerald Headingley this weekend.

The Giants had enjoyed a fine start to their league campaign, winning four of their five fixtures, including a triumph over reigning champions St Helens before the lockdown in March.

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Aided by the arrival of Aidan Sezer, the Giants’ only league defeat came against Wigan Warriors, and the 29-year-old has proved to be one of the catalysts for Huddersfield’s encouraging start.

Huddersfield Giants' in-form Aidan Sezer has plenty to shout about. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

He is one of the early contenders for the Man of Steel award, with only Paul McShane ahead of him in the leaderboard.

After Toronto Wolfpack’s results were expunged, Wigan and Castleford Tigers both dropped to the same number of points as Huddersfield, having played a game more.

Leeds themselves had been in fine form before the campaign was halted but head coach Woolford is confident his players will be able to maintain their momentum from the early part of the season.

“I know the players went away and trained hard and did their own thing to stay in reasonable shape but you can’t beat preparing as a team,” said Woolford.

Huddersfield Giants' game changer, Aidan Sezer. Picture Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

“The footy stuff they haven’t been able to do while they were away; we have only got a limited time to get that right. I can only speak from what I have seen from the players; they are all pretty excited and grateful to be back.

“It is like the first game of the year really. That is how the boys are treating it, as will the 10 other teams, I would imagine.

“I am pretty confident we will come back and hit the ground running.”

Huddersfield were one of the first sides to return to training ahead of Super League’s resumption, meeting together for the first time in over four months on July 11.

It has taken Woolford time to adjust to the restrictions put on clubs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players have mostly been training in groups of six, meaning time together as an entire squad has been limited.

The Australian admits he has even had a few squabbles with Huddersfield’s Covid safety officer over the restrictions but insists he “couldn’t be happier” with where his side are heading into this weekend’s contest.

“It certainly was a long four-and-a-half months and a lot of hurdles to overcome along the way,” he said.

“It was a little a bit tricky the first week back. I have butted heads with our Covid officer about what we can do and what we can’t do. It is very frustrating.

“It is all to keep everybody safe and healthy and we all understand that. As coaches, we want to get back into it and back to normal as quickly as possible.

“We have had a couple of good weeks prep now.

“I couldn’t be happier with where we are at, considering the short turnaround and the short amount of time we have had as a team.

“Come Sunday I think we will be as ready as we can be. Again, our form was pretty good before the break. We thought we were going OK and having the competition stopped wasn’t great for us and, hopefully, we can get back to playing some good footy.”

Woolford admits he would have liked more time with his squad before the restart but with clubs needing to balance the cost of bringing players off furlough, every side has had approximately three weeks to prepare.

The Giants had a referee at one of their training sessions this week, to try and get up to speed with the new rules which will see no scrums take place and the six-again rule introduced for the first time.

Following Toronto’s withdrawal from the competition, a number of their players could be made available to other clubs.

However, Woolford insists there will be no transfer activity at the John Smith’s Stadium before the end of the season.

He said: “We won’t be going into the market; like every other club we have gone through a difficult period.

“Players have taken pay cuts that they will remain on for the rest of the year.

“I don’t think it would be fair or look good on our club if we went into the market to boost our squad for the rest of this year.

“We are relatively happy with our squad, so I don’t think there is any need for us to go into the market this year.

“We will go with what we have got.”

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