Huddersfield Giants happy to pay the price of success in Super League

THE sight of jubilant Huddersfield Giants players sprinting in en masse to celebrate tries with team-mates has become a common image during their stunning recent run.

Dale Ferguson.
Dale Ferguson.

However, as much as it illustrates the team spirit that has helped underpin their renaissance, rising from bottom in May to top-four contenders now, there is a little more to it than meets the eye.

Coach Simon Woolford, the Australian who has overseen 11 wins from their last 12 league games, devised the basic plan.

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“There’s a £10 fine for the last person in after we score,” said Scotland international Dale Ferguson, which explained why Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary can often be spotted accelerating from one side of the pitch to the other.

“He (McGillvary) is one of the tightest men in the league so he eats his metres up with his speed to try and get in there.

“I still think he’s already £60 down, though. This fine has definitely got the boys moving pretty fast and celebrating.

“But that just shows how close we are and it is a good place to be at the minute.”

That is undeniable. There is such a belief coursing through the determined squad.

Their Super 8s began with a win at leaders St Helens and was followed up by Friday’s 26-6 victory over Hull FC.

That leaves then fifth and just four points adrift of fourth-placed Warrington Wolves with five games remaining.

It remains an invidious position but Ferguson insisted: “Everyone’s working for each other and we look like teams aren’t going to score against us.

“There’s a massive contrast to the beginning of the year when we leaked a lot of points which potentially could hurt us towards the back end of the year.

“But the new staff came in, noticed the defence wasn’t really that good and have worked a lot on it. We just have to keep ticking off each week. We have a week off now to look after ourselves then go into the Wakefield game at home. If we win and they (Wolves) slip up we have a lot of belief we can still push on.”

Having rejoined from Bradford Bulls last season, the 30-year-old forward is in his second spell at the club where he won the League Leaders Shield in 2013.

Ferguson was man-of-the-match against Hull and said: “You probably play a bit better when you’re happy and I am.

“I’m just getting used to a new position playing loose forward again for the first time since I was at Wakefield. I’ve mainly played back-row for the last 10 years but it’s pretty similar.”

Giants, meanwhile, have handed a three-year contract to the man credited with playing a key role in the resurgence

Australian Mark Andrews – who had a spell with the club in 2009 and 2010 – rejoined as head of performance on a short-term basis following the sacking of head coach Rick Stone at the end of March.

Working initially with interim head coach Chris Thorman and then Woolford, he helped transform their fortunes.

Giants managing director Richard Thewlis said: “The impact of Mark has been clear to see from the outside and it’s even more marked internally when you see what he does day to day.

“We must remember he came without a written contract on just a handshake to a club struggling but it’s a club in his heart and he wanted to help us.

“He desperately wants Huddersfield to succeed and immediately he came in made changes the players and fellow coaches bought into. I was delighted when Simon said he wanted him to stay longer and be part of his team long-term.”