Kaufusi’s forward thinking can help Giants

Huddersfield Giants' Antonio Kaufusi celebrates with Big G the club's mascot.
Huddersfield Giants' Antonio Kaufusi celebrates with Big G the club's mascot.
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WHAT better way to spark your stuttering season into life than via an Antonio Kaufusi sledgehammer tackle?

Admittedly, if you are on the receiving end of one of the Tongan prop’s legendary big hits, there are certainly more pleasant pastimes to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon.

However, with his current side Huddersfield Giants struggling for form and conviction, you sense they could do with the formidable front-row to inflict one of his shuddering collisions tomorrow, if anything simply to shake his very own team-mates out of their current malaise.

They need something as last season’s League Leaders, with just one win from six games and whose latest implosion was surrendering a 14-4 interval lead to lose 33-14 at home to Warrington, face unbeaten and red-hot St Helens in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

There is, then, no room for manoeuvre in this fourth round tie at John Smith’s Stadium in front of the BBC cameras; it is time for the swaggering Huddersfield of 2013 to re-emerge.

Kaufusi, one of three players brought in by coach Paul Anderson last winter to in theory fortify that trophy-winning side, certainly has the capability to drive them forward.

Having played in two NRL Grand Finals with Melbourne Storm, the 29-year-old also represented Queensland in State of Origin after picking up a solitary Australia cap in 2006.

Huddersfield team-mate Eorl Crabtree – no shrinking violet himself – felt the full force of one of Kaufusi’s bone-jarring tackles when facing him in London Broncos colours two years ago.

Has the England prop mentioned that much since they became colleagues in West Yorkshire?

“No. That’s just part of the game,” replied Kaufusi.

“That’s just gone. No one remembers that one hit. You just keep going.

“But probably towards the back end of my career I’ve realised that I can use my size to my advantage and, so, hopefully if I can help out the team, give the boys a lift, I’m always going to try doing that.

“Big plays can raise a team. Look at our wingers and their cover defence; that’s a big play too, that can lift a team.

“If we can do that as a collective – as a side – I guess it’ll be better for us.

“We have had a tough start but I’ve been in similar situations and the best thing we can do is stick tight. We’re doing that.

“With the core group we’ve got there’s no need to panic and we’re not. We’ve just got to trust and believe in ourselves we can go out there and still do the job.

“We know we’ll have to against a very good Saints side who are the form team at the moment.”

There is no escaping that fact; St Helens – coached by Anderson’s Huddersfield predecessor Nathan Brown – shrugged off the absence of nine first-teamers to defeat Leeds Rhinos last week, a seventh successive win.

“They are finding ways to win whereas we turned up on Sunday looking for ways to shoot ourselves in the foot,” continued Kaufusi, whose battle with Saints’ returning props Alex Walmsley and Kyle Amor should be seismic.

“Our challenge this week is to try and rectify that. It’s a big game against St Helens but I love playing against the major teams like them especially seeing the size of some of their guys.

“They’ve definitely gone big this year so it’ll be a good challenge for our pack and I think it’ll come down to which forward pack goes the better.”

As well as Amor and Walmsley, the visitors also recall Kaufusi’s Exiles colleague, the marauding second-row Willie Manu, in their giant pack, ex-Hull FC centre Jordan Turner and, perhaps most crucially, the Australian scrum-half Luke Walsh who makes an early return from injury.

Huddersfield hope to have Joe Wardle back to replace injured England centre Leroy Cudjoe while Kaufusi is confident of pushing on to Wembley after missing out with London last year following their embarrassing 70-0 semi-final loss to Wigan Warriors.