New Huddersfield head coach Rick Stone is excited by the challenge of keeping the Giants in Super League.
The 49-year-old former Newcastle Knights boss, who has succeeded Paul Anderson in the hot seat at the John Smith’s Stadium, will take charge of his first game when Huddersfield host St Helens on Sunday in the penultimate round of the regular season.
The Giants are confirmed in the bottom four and will face a seven-match play-off series in the Qualifiers to determine the final make-up of Super League in 2017.
“I understand the situation we’re in,” Stone told his first press conference. “It keeps you on your edge because in the next couple of weeks, things get really serious at the back end of the season for us.
“A relegation system is not something I’ve experienced before but sudden-death footy has been around for a long time and, even though it can be quite daunting, it can be quite exciting at the same time.
“I know at this point in time, there’s a reality of it there. I know the squad on paper has a number of quality players and it’s my job to bring the best out of them. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Stone will be assisted by former Huddersfield player Chris Thorman, who is promoted from the role of under-19s coach, with the recently-retired Luke Robinson becoming the academy coach.
Stone, who has been appointed to the end of the 2018 season, spoke to former Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown, who succeeded him at the Knights, as well as former Super League players Chris Bailey and Danny Buderus and ex-Catalans Dragons boss Trent Robinson before accepting the Giants offer.
“I did a bit of homework and spoke to a few people that have been involved in Super League and they said it’s generally a top-four club who have always got a quality roster,” he said.
“They’re not the biggest spenders in Super League but they’re more than adequate as far as resources and players are concerned and it was decent to hear those comments. They were really excited for me and thought it would be a good fit.”
Stone admits he has a point to prove following his unceremonious sacking by Newcastle last July.
“The way I finished, I got dumped, it definitely dented my reputation, there is no doubt about that,” Stone said. “I was really disappointed, it took me a bit of time to get my engine re-charged for the game.
“But it’s a game I love and, when the opportunity came, I was really keen to throw my hat in the ring. I’m absolutely honoured and delighted to come and be the head coach.”
Meanwhile, Stone says he will attempt to retain the services of utility back Jake Connor, who is currently the subject of a tug-of-war with Hull, who have maintained they have secured the player on a two-year deal from next season.
“He’s a player we’d like to keep and I’ll do everything in my power to help Jake stay at Huddersfield next year,” Stone said.
“He’s a good, young player and he’s very confident in his own skin at the club. There’s a little bit to sort out there but I don’t know the details at the moment.”
One player who will definitely be at Huddersfield next season is Warrington winger Gene Ormsby.
The 23-year-old played two matches on loan for the Giants earlier in the season and has now made the move permanent following his release by the Wolves The player had agreed to join Huddersfield for 2017 but the move has been brought forward.
“It’s exciting to be back,” Ormsby said. “I really enjoyed my time here when I was on loan so it is great to be back here with the boys. The opportunity presented itself to come here and I wanted to get game time so it is good for my career to be here and the chance to work for Rick Stone is something I am looking forward to.”