THEY are starting from an invidious position but Huddersfield Giants’ Leroy Cudjoe maintains Super League’s bottom club can still reach the top eight, especially if they win at Wigan tonight.
Invigorated and relieved after ending a five-match losing run by beating leaders Warrington Wolves 11-0 last Friday, Paul Anderson’s side are seeking a quick repeat when they head to the DW Stadium.
Granted, that prior success may have only been their second victory of a sorry campaign and they do remain six points adrift of the critical cut-off point at the halfway stage meaning the ‘Qualifiers’ is a more likely outcome.
However, England centre Cudjoe told The Yorkshire Post: “The top eight is still very much in our sights.
“If we get a few good, consistent wins, we are right back in there.
“We just need to take it game by game and see where we end up later down the line.
“The win against Warrington was massive for us; it just proved to us when we do complete, keep hold of the ball and build pressure, how good a team we are.”
Furthermore, having so impressively seen off the current No1 side, the prospect of tackling Wigan – who will go top themselves with a victory this evening – is suddenly not as daunting.
Indeed, Huddersfield ran them close in February, many onlookers feeling that, even with a depleted side, they did enough to deserve a win rather than the 13-8 defeat suffered.
Cudjoe recalled: “It doesn’t seem too long ago since we played them in round two – games just keep coming around so quickly.
“We were very good in that game and were unlucky to lose.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t build on that performance in the few games after.
“We need to build on that performance this week – keep doing the right things, be patient and defensively bring that same attitude and commitment.
“Wigan are missing a few big players but they are still a very good team and will provide us with another tough test. We just need to focus on ourselves and keep building our game.”
Anderson hailed his youngsters against Warrington, saying they “turned into men.”
Many of them are expected to retain their place this evening with the coach resisting the temptation to recall Eorl Crabtree, the prop who is running once more after injury.
“All the kids were great,” admitted Cudjoe, the return of on-loan Warrington winger Gene Ormsby the only likely change.
“I thought Nathan Mason was outstanding against Warrington and it’s good to see all the hard work he’s putting in paying off. (Centre) Jake Connor is a very good player, too, and can be as good as he wants.
“He just needs to be consistent and keep working hard but he’s a strong player with very good skill.
“I think individually a few players have been playing well but we’ve just not really played well as a team, which is what we are all focused on trying to do,” he added.
It was an elder statesmen, however, who really caught the eye – 33-year-old stand-off Danny Brough, who dictated the play.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane has identified the former ‘Man of Steel’ as Huddersfield’s main threat ahead of the televised contest.
“Danny Brough has been outstanding these last few weeks,” he said. “He’s the man and the one who is pushing all of the buttons.
“Not many teams can keep Warrington to nil. They’ll be a real threat to us. I like the way they play.
“They’re now getting back to how Huddersfield play.
“We won’t underestimate them.”
Talented Bradford Bulls hooker Adam O’Brien, 22, has signed a new deal at Odsal until the end of 2019.