IT WAS not long ago that some people were wondering who might get the sack first – Huddersfield Giants coach Paul Anderson or his Salford Red Devils’ counterpart Iestyn Harris.
However, a few weeks later and Huddersfield are Super League’s form team, while tonight’s opponents are increasingly looking like a dangerously coherent side and not just a collaboration of expensive individual talents.
Professional sport can be a fickle world. It also means this evening’s game between these two opponents is suddenly one of Easter’s most intriguing contests for all the right reasons.
Huddersfield are aiming for a fifth successive win while their visitors, with just one defeat in their last five outings, are keen on adding to the impressive fashion in which they swept past Widnes Vikings last week.
Anderson said: “Salford will offer a good challenge.
“They’ve got a lot of ‘X’ factor in their ranks obviously with Rangi Chase and there appears to be a collective togetherness developing in them.
“They’re looking like they are starting to enjoy themselves and they’ve changed the brand of rugby that they play so it makes them dangerous.
“The competition is unpredictable as a whole.
“They’ll be looking at us as the form team and it will be a good challenge for them but obviously vice-versa for us.
“We want to make sure we keep our momentum rolling.”
Salford, with former Hull KR scrum-half Michael Dobson now settling in alongside Chase and so many other stellar recruits, do appear finally to be finding some cohesiveness.
With four ex-Giants players – Josh Griffin, his brother Darrell, hooker Tommy Lee and winger Greg Worthington – potentially in their ranks as well there will be plenty of added incentive to earn a win that would see them rise above Huddersfield into the top four.
This said, the home side, so erratic early in the season when their attacking form was questioned, have quietly established themselves as the best defenders in the competition.
“It’s all about hard work and effort,” said Anderson.
“Defending is not about talent, it’s about doing your structures and working hard for each other and having some intent with what you’re doing.
“I think we’re finding our feet defensively. We’ve still got some fluency issues in offence but we’re scoring points.
“We’re doing it well for big periods and not so well in other periods. We’ve got to be on the ball both ways this week.”
He is without England centre Leroy Cudjoe who “rolled” an ankle in the excellent 29-10 success at Warrington Wolves but could be fit for Monday’s trip to Hull KR.
Aaron Murphy switches to the centre meaning a much-appreciated recall for England Knights wideman Jodie Broughton on the wing after a frustrating start to the year for him.
Prop Anthony Mullally is also nursing a knock so Josh Johnson comes in and centre Joe Wardle makes his 100th appearance for the club, Junior Sa’u returning for Salford.