BEING described as a “grub” by your own coach might be misinterpreted as meaning you are destined for the door.
When Huddersfield Giants coach Paul Anderson uses the term about Jake Connor, however, it is clearly one of endearment – the youngster is definitely not going anywhere.
He may get another game tomorrow when the Giants head to Widnes Vikings, but with England centre Leroy Cudjoe fit again, Aaron Murphy on the mend and Scott Grix pushing for a recall, the youngster might have to sit this one out.
Nevertheless, Anderson is a fan of a player who, despite having only 20 league games under his belt, has already featured in four different positions and looked assured wherever he has played.
Full-back, centre, stand-off and wing, as a natural footballer it is hard to distinguish which will be the 20-year-old’s long-term slot.
“He’s a talented young player, but he’s a grub on the field sometimes – he can get under people’s skins,” said Anderson.
“That’s no bad thing for us, though. I found it quite amusing the other day when he got sin-binned; he deliberately walked past all their forwards and they were giving him grief.
“Then Anthony England was doing the same and it didn’t faze him. Jakey’s game has got some talented things about it, and he’s typical of a young player.
“We spoke about his best position and we still don’t know – we’ve spoken about him maybe being a six in the future.
“It doesn’t matter where you play him he handles things really well.”
The game in question was Sunday’s feisty and spiteful 30-19 win over visiting Warrington Wolves in which Connor, who scored his first try in 11 games this term, was one of four players yellow-carded for fighting, including Wolves’ gargantuan prop England, who was also later banned for spitting at Giants captain Danny Brough.
Anderson does not want to talk about the latter – “he’s done the crime so he’ll do the time but it’s not something about the game we want to be broadcasting” – but he is happy to discuss what the victory means for his squad. Essentially, nothing yet.
“There’s no point us going to Widnes and not backing up what we did against Warrington,” he said, with his club still in pursuit of a top-four berth,
“That’s what we spoke about this week; we did some good things but didn’t back it up with more good stuff – and that’s what we need to do this week.
“We need to back Warrington up with Widnes; not many teams have won there, so it’s a fair challenge for us. It’s going to be a dry surface and it’ll be pretty slick so it’ll be good for us.”
Not everyone is a fan of Widnes’s artificial pitch, but Anderson refuses to use that as a potential excuse.
“We’ve trained on a plastic surface this week to get a feel for it,” he said. “It’s important; it is what it is but the field we’re on at the minute is rock solid anyway.
“It’s more about that mindset and feeling in your head that you’re training on a similar surface. I think it did give Widnes a psychological advantage at one point. It’s home advantage for them and fair play to them, it works for them. But we’ve an opportunity to achieve another double this week after one last week against Warrington.”
Just as artificial pitches are synonymous with Widnes, out of the top eight after defeat to Hull KR, so is the name Kevin Brown.
The former Huddersfield captain has been in imperious form once more after nailing the Super League Dream Team stand-off role last season.
Anderson knows the 30-year-old former England international well but insisted: “It’s not all down to Kevin. People talk about him like they do Broughy with us and think it’s all one-dimensional, but it’s not.
“He’s a good player but he’s got Joe Mellor and Rhys Hanbury around him who are contributing and contributing well.
“They’ve got good forwards to back that up and they’re all chipping in. Kevin gets a lot of praise but I’m sure he’d praise those around him.”
Huddersfield are boosted by the return of second rower Brett Ferres (knee) while centre Leroy Cudjoe also returns from injury but there is still no place for full-back Scott Grix.