Danny Brough last night insisted Huddersfield Giants can have “no excuses” about their Super League failures and only a change in attitude can turn them into Grand Final winners.
Although the West Yorkshire club have become a regular top four side and actually won the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013, they have still yet to reach Old Trafford following a series of play-off debacles.
Huddersfield have won just three such encounters in 14 since first qualifying in 2007, enduring an embarrassing 57-4 loss at Wigan last year and then falling 18-16 at home to a Catalan Dragons side that finished seventh.
As the new campaign approaches there is, as always, renewed hope that this could be the year they finally remedy the nagging problem and push on to a maiden Grand Final appearance and first title win since 1962.
At the club’s season launch yesterday, captain Brough told The Yorkshire Post: “We always put ourselves in a good position with a chance but we just don’t execute at the back end of the season as well as we should.
“We’ve no excuses. We have been second best to every team we have played in play-off football so there’s no arguments.
“It is strange but I just think people have not been switched on – everyone included from one to 17 – to do their job better than their opponent.
“I don’t think there is any secret, any formula or anything like that, I just don’t think we’ve wanted it as much as others on the day.
“Of course, you can’t coach that. That’s up to the individual. If you want to work harder than your opponent you’ll do it, if you take a short-cut then you won’t.
“There’s no philosophy behind it; you have got to play your best football on the day and being better than one of the major teams in the play-off games is something we’ve still not quite done.”
The inspirational stand-off believes the siginings of highly-rated prop Craig Huby and half-back Jamie Ellis from Castleford Tigers, plus the recruitment of Wigan second-row Jack Hughes on a season-long loan, will strengthen their hand but feels the squad have to be “flying” from the off given the competition’s new structure in 2015 does not favour slow starters.
On the subject of that new structure, the RFL yesterday revealed details of the season’s launch when, for the first time, fans can take part in the opening celebrations at a new, ticketed event entitled Rugby League Rocks.
Hosted by former European 400m champion Iwan Thomas and BBC presenter Mark Chapman at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on Sunday, February 1 (6pm), it is dubbed as an “all-action show featuring a live set from a top band, dancers, acrobatic performances and the chance for supporters to meet their heroes.”
Clearly, organisers are trying to bring some razzmatazz to proceedings as they seek to get the “new era” off to a flying start.
Significant changes in 2015, of course, see the competition split into the Super 8s after 23 rounds when Super League’s bottom four face the Championship’s elite quartet opening up the chance of promotion and relegation.
At the top end, though, only the Super League’s top four after the mini-series will reach the play-offs meaning pressure is on sides like Huddersfield, too.
Brough, who turns 32 today, said: “I don’t really know the answer to whether the structure will be a success but everyone is willing to give it a go. Hopefully, it gets more fans and sponsors involved, it gives us a good brand and represents the game better.
“As for the opening event, it is good to get the fans involved to try get everyone on board and give an early exclusive into players, teams, kits and things like that.
“Hopefully, it will be a bit more entertaining than in the past.”