GIVEN all the grief Warrington Wolves have caused them in recent times, it is understandable why Huddersfield Giants are particularly keen on inflicting a rare double tomorrow.
The Cheshire side had proved their nemesis for so long until April’s 29-10 win at Halliwell Jones Stadium proved Huddersfield’s first win over them in a dozen meetings.
Along the way Warrington, at various crucial times, had forced their exit from the Challenge Cup and from the play-offs so the West Yorkshire club is keen to redress the balance.
Moreover, fifth-placed Giants know tomorrow’s home fixture has added importance considering their proximity to each other in the Super League table; the hosts are ahead of their rivals by one place but only due to a superior points difference, as they both have 18 points.
Add in the fact they have failed to beat any of the other leading sides – Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors or St Helens – this season and all of a sudden this game’s relevance increases markedly.
“Results in Super League are going all over the joint at the moment but for us as a club this is a big occasion,” Huddersfield prop Craig Kopczak told The Yorkshire Post.
“We really need to stride forward for this game as things are getting tighter.
“We definitely need to put a marker out there that we can beat the big teams as well.
“Plus it’s an opportunity to do the double over a side who, in the club’s history – I’m not sure of the exact stats – we have not done it against for a long time.
“Warrington have given us a lot of pain in the past so it’d be a good one in which to get our own back.”
On Sunday, a depleted Huddersfield lost out at home to in-form Wigan while showing, as they so often have this season, flashes of brilliance but ultimately missing out.
“We’re striving towards it (an 80-minute display) but things happen in games,” added Kopczak, the forward who is playing some of his best football since a controversial move from Bradford Bulls in 2012.
“We’re training really well. If we take that into games and really take that to another level we can do it; we know we can do it.
“We’ve done it to teams before and we just really need to do it on a consistent level.
“These are the games you want to be in – for me good quality opposition like Chris Hill and Ashton Sims, international players –and it’s a good test for everyone.”
The Wales captain is pleased with his own form and, approaching his 29th birthday, should be nearing his best as a front-row having first started out as a rangy teenager with then Super League champions Bradford in 2006.
“These are the prime years for me,” he said.
“I’m happy with the way I’ve been going. Greg Brown worked me hard in pre-season and my fitness has definitely got a lot better.
“I remember I wanted a rest after the World Cup (in 2013). I didn’t really get that.
“I did have a good pre-season but this year I had a really good pre-season, worked really hard and it’s showing in my performances.”
He is currently working hard off the pitch for other reasons, too.
“I’ve just had a little girl just over a week ago now,” he said.
“It’s our second child. Harvey will be four in October and he’s really excited helping out.
“Well, helping in a way. He’s not too jealous and she’s called Poppy. Yep, Poppy Koppy – that’s the one!”
Meanwhile, Kopczak is relishing the chance to revive Wales’s fortunes after their failure to qualify for the 2016 Four Nations.
“It was disappointing (missing out on the Four Nations) at the time but the way things are it might have been a good thing to start again as obviously a lot of things have changed behind the scenes,” he said, including head coach John Kear’s arrival as Iestyn Harris’s replacement last year. “A lot of people have come in – Iestyn’s gone – so there’s a lot of changes including venues so it’s rebuilding as a brand and nation. It’s exciting times for us.
“There’s a lot of young people coming through as well and it’s good for the Crusaders and South Wales Scorpions, there’s a lot of Welsh players coming through there now.
“It can only get stronger and if nations doing well clubs are doing well and hopefully it will grow bigger in Wales.”
Their next assignment will be against Keighley Cougars in a benefit match for Danny Jones, the former Keighley and Wales scrum-half, who tragically died while playing earlier this season aged just 29.
“I was quite close with him,” admitted Kopczak.
“It was very sad. It’s not nice at all.
“Danny was a very popular person around the Wales squad and always brightened up the room when he was in there.
“Hopefully, I’ll be in that charity game and we’ll all get together to raise a lot of money for the family.”