Josh Griffin and Hull FC have point to prove against Huddersfield Giants

FOURTEEN days of self-isolation has given Josh Griffin plenty of time to mull over the “shambles” of what went before for him and his Hull FC team-mates.

OBstacles to overcome: Josh Griffin and his Hull FC team-mates will return to action this weekend after a raft of positive Covid-19 cases were found at the club earlier this month. Picture Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

When they walk out against Huddersfield Giants tomorrow, rarely can a side have been so desperate to simply play a game of rugby league.

If five months without the sport due to coronavirus was bad enough, Hull returned for one game – a woeful 54-18 loss against Salford Red Devils – and were immediately shut down again after a dozen members of their squad and staff tested positive.

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There has, wrongly, been recriminations against them for putting the completion of the season at risk but one thing they are guilty of is badly under-performing on the field.

Given the Salford debacle was Andy Last’s first game in charge as interim head coach, it only adds to the urgent need for improvements when they finally restart at Halliwell Jones Stadium.

But aside from that backdrop, what was it like physically and mentally for the players being confined to their own homes for a fortnight before resuming training on Tuesday?

“Five months is a long time without a game and then, to finally get back into a bit of routine – arriving at training every morning and having something to do at last – to then have it taken away again within just a couple of weeks, it was massively frustrating,” Griffin told The Yorkshire Post.

“I found this self-isolating time harder than the five months, if I’m honest, purely because everyone else was doing what they wanted; carrying on with life, others were playing rugby and we were just sat at home on our own.

FAMILIAR FOE: Josh Griffin made his Super League debut with Huddersfield Giants in 2009. Picture: Tony Johnson.

“In terms of training, I’m quite lucky as I have a bit of a gym set up and I always find a way to do something. I managed to do something every day but I know some of the boys struggled with their bits of stuff and motivation.

“Mentally-wise it was tough as we literally were not allowed to leave the house whereas in lockdown at least we could go for a run or a walk or get out of the house for an hour or so. But this time there was none of that.”

As much as there is eagerness to get cracking again, tomorrow’s game will be no easy task given Hull’s lack of preparation and the sheer number of players deemed still not ready to take to the field.

Great Britain duo Josh Jones and Jake Connor are absent with England prop Scott Taylor and ‘middles’ Josh Bowden, Ligi Sao, Masi Matongo and Andre Savelio.

BACK TO IT: The Hull FC squad returned to training this week after two weeks in isolation. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Nevertheless, given the paucity of their last two displays – coach Lee Radford was sacked after a dire defeat against Warrington Wolves in March – there can be no excuses for another no-show.

Centre Griffin, 30, admitted: “The first game was a shambles in every area. We wanted to right some wrongs from back in March but we embarrassed ourselves even more. We let Lasty down and the club; we went there with nearly a full-strength team and were a shambles. That’d be a nice way to put it.

“Now I feel we have a point to prove. We’ve got the first game nerves out of the way, we know what the atmosphere is going to be like, we know what the six again rule is all about. We know what the crack is now.

“We know what to expect more now and hopefully it’s now us getting a performance together.”

No team has played more than Hull’s eight league games so far and, with five defeats already, another loss could already see the expensively-assembled side – billed as potential Grand Finalists at the start – six points adrift of the top-four.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, have lost by just a solitary point to both Leeds Rhinos and Warrington since their return.

Griffin, who made his Super League debut as a Giants player in 2009, conceded: “They are a good, young, enthusiastic team playing probably the opposite to us at the moment. They’re turning up for each other, are doing the right things on the field and have been unlucky. They’re staying in games whereas we seem to be crumbling; we could do with taking a leaf out of their book.”

Whatever the outcome, there will be plenty of eyes on this Hull side, both now and hereon in. And one thing is certain, at the third time of trying, they need a positive performance.

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James Mitchinson