IT IS HARDLY worth asking Huddersfield Giants’ Jordan Turner about the prospect of facing former club Salford Red Devils anymore as everything there has, quite literally, changed.
Although the centre returns this lunchtime, the club is unrecognisable to the one he left at the end of 2009, at first for a three-year stint at Hull FC and then for further moves to St Helens and NRL’s Canberra Raiders.
Turner grew up in nearby Oldham but was on Salford’s books from the age of 14 and initially made his name with the club who were then titled City Reds and playing out of The Willows, their traditional home of more than a century.
Of course, since then, they have had another name change, been taken over by millionaire Marwan Koukash and moved into the AJ Bell Stadium.
“To be honest, it is like a totally different club from when I was there,” admitted Turner.
“There’s none of the same playing staff or coaching staff and they’re in a new ground in a different area as well. But the club has really come on. I was happy to see them in the Challenge Cup semi-finals earlier this year and also not to be struggling in the Qualifiers like last season.
“I’m all about Huddersfield now, though, so there’ll be no sentiment there tomorrow.”
Furthermore, Salford are unrecognisable from the side that, earlier this season, rode as high as second before suffering an awful slump after losing to Wigan in that Challenge Cup semi-final –their first since 1998.
Indeed, they have lost their last eight matches, their last win actually being a 36-20 success against Huddersfield more than two months ago.
Has Turner been surprised their early season brightness dimmed so markedly?
“Not really,” said the 28-year-old, now settled after his mid-season move from Canberra.
“But that’s with the utmost respect. What I mean is that Super League is so competitive at the moment that you expect anything from anyone – whether that being going on a decent run or a losing one – so it’s no surprise actually.”
Huddersfield’s hopes of gatecrashing the top-four semi-finals were all but ended when losing against leaders Castleford Tigers last week but they are intent on finishing off positively.
They head to St Helens – with whom Turner won the 2014 Grand Final – next Friday and then host Leeds Rhinos.
Giants, so much improved in the second half of this campaign, have beaten Wakefield and Hull in the Super 8s while losing to Wigan and Castleford.
Turner said: “No one’s given us much attention now and no one has throughout the Super 8s, if I’m honest.
“We’re not feeling any pressure but we’re looking to get a win at Salford and then just take it each week by week.
“We want to finish as high up the table as we can and we’ve targeted winning all of our remaining three games now.
“All we can do is finish off on a high and not worry about anyone else.”
Giants prop Tyler Dickinson, 21, has earned a two-year contract. He has yet to start in Super League but has made nine appearances off the bench in 2017.