Brough eager to lay marker as Giants face former coach Brown

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By the end of Nathan Brown’s four-year reign at Huddersfield Giants, he admitted some players had effectively picked the team for him.

It was perhaps his death knell, conceding he had bowed to player pressure to change tactics and, thus, formation ahead of the Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves last July.

It was a game they still lost by some margin but the charismatic Australian – who had long since announced he would be moving to St Helens in 2013 anyway – probably knew his time was up given Huddersfield had won just once in eight games and now surrendered their only realistic chance of silverware. There was a parting of the ways the following day.

However, you cannot ever imagine Brown’s replacement handing over such authority however dire the circumstances.

Paul Anderson – renowned for his grumpy demeanour at the best of times – made it clear from the off that, once stepping up from assistant to head coach over those dark summer days, the huge former Great Britain prop would be demanding plenty and expecting nothing less than full co-operation.

He could do little to stop the rot with what remained of 2012, a Huddersfield side that had topped Super League in May completing its annual act of hari kari to stumble in at seventh and meekly capitulate in a hefty play-off defeat at Hull.

But the no-nonsense Castlefordian has since had a full off-season to revamp his squad and implement his own ideas so that, late this afternoon, they start the new Super League season with renewed optimism that they can finally deliver on all their obvious potential.

Typically, the magic of the fixture computer sees them head to St Helens and an immediate reunion with Brown who admittedly, for all the manner of his exit, had done so much to revive Huddersfield during his tenure.

A player who knows both coaches inside out is Danny Brough, the scrum-half who Brown paid a sizeable transfer fee for to bring from Wakefield in 2010, making him the fulcrum of his team, and who Anderson has since elected as his captain for the year ahead.

Looking back, he told the Yorkshire Post: “I think it was inevitable Browny leaving like that.

“He was going to go the year before and stayed on an extra year.

“I always knew there was going to be a point where he was going to leave.

“It wasn’t great how it happened and it’s always sad to see a coach go but it’s great to see Baloo come through as an English coach and hopefully stamp his authority on Super League and the Giants.”

Brough is undeterred by having to face his erstwhile boss in the opening game and insists the West Yorkshire club has simply focused on putting into practice their new approach developed over the winter.

“When you’ve done pre-season you just look forward to playing and all the lads are the same,” he said, with former Bradford Bulls prop Craig Kopczak and ex-Wigan front-row Stuart Fielden two acquisitions likely to make their debut.

“It doesn’t matter who it was against. We’re going to have to face Saints and Browny some time so it’s good to get it out of the way first game and hopefully come up with what, I’d have thought, would be a shock defeat.”

Indeed, with Saints having captured the menacing Willie Manu from Hull FC – one of Super League’s most coveted players – many are tipping the Merseysiders to return to Old Trafford this time but Brough prefers to concentrate on what his own side can do.

“They’ve got quality all over the park and Willie’s just another addition to that,” he said. “He’s probaby been Hull’s best player for the last couple of years so I’m sure he’ll keep that going at Saints.

“We’ve just got to find a way to stop them and sort ourselves out.”

Brough will form a new half-back duo with Luke Robinson, the scrum-half Brown shifted to hooker to accomodate his arrival from Trinity.

Whereas Brown preferred a mobile pack, often using a variety of back-rows as props, and playing an extra half-back at loose forward for added creativity, there is no doubting Anderson’s tactics.

“He (Anderson) has gone back to his old Bradford playing ways looking at size and go-forward,” he explained, wise considering the size of Saints’ pack.

“He just wants us to complete our sets and pretty much grind wins out with the big fellas going forward to make it easier for us half-backs and hopefully give us something to build on.

“It’s always good to play behind a big pack while me and Robbo are two totally different players.

“Hopefully you’ll see that this season. I don’t want to give too much away about how we’re going to play but we’re excited.”

But what about that consistent failure for always falling short when it matters most?

Brough, 30, said: “I wouldn’t like to put my finger on it but hopefully we’ll finish the way we’ve been starting seasons.

“We’ve been drilled to do that this year.”