Almost 10 years ago in 2013, we saw Huddersfield start the game looking as formidable as ever.
Under new coach Paul Anderson – a serial winner as a player – the Giants began the season with a thumping win over St Helens and former boss Nathan Brown setting their stall out early.
From there, the Giants stormed the league campaign finishing top of the league and securing the League Leaders’ Shield, the only piece of silverware the club has claimed during the Super League era.
In the years that followed, Huddersfield continued to be a threat finishing in the top four in 2014 and 2015 before things tailed away in 2016 and since then the Giants have not reached those heights again. Perhaps until now.
Yesterday, Huddersfield claimed a fourth win from the opening five rounds which left them second in the table only behind Champions St Helens. Granted it was less than a perfect win against Castleford. Having led 18-0 at halftime on the back of a formidable first 40, the Giants allowed Castleford back into the game but they showed good character to take the lead again late on in the fixture to secure the two points.
But, asides from this new found character, what else has changed at the John Smith’s Stadium which has the Giants looking so good in 2022?
Perhaps the biggest difference is at nine. Like in 2013 when Shaun Lunt returned to the club as a Super League Champion after a loan spell with Leeds, the Giants have found a nine who is the perfect blend or organiser and creator with Danny Levi often bossing the ruck and using his energy to cause teams real problems in that area. This has given the Giants a more dangerous attack.
On top of this, the Giants now have some of the best and most exciting halfbacks in the league. Theo Fages has missed the last two games but there is no doubting the former Super League Champion’s quality whilst Oliver Russell is a good organiser. Meanwhile, in Will Pryce and Tui Lolohea they have too of the most dangerous and best runners in the league.
What’s crucial though however is the fact that the likes of Russell can also take on the defensive line whilst Pryce and Lolohea have the ability to step in as first receivers. So, there’s an unpredictability to their attack now much like the Danny Brough led strike force in 2013.
Their pack is also a lot meaner and able of taking a game by the scruff of the neck thanks to the experience of Chris Hill at prop – a shrewd signing indeed.
Asides from the new signings, plenty of Giants players are exceeding what we saw from them in 2021 and that has to be down to Ian Watson. The Giants boss turned players who were seen as average into top notch players at Salford and has taken the likes of Innes Senior to the next level in 2022. The character I spoke of earlier surely comes from Watson too and is reminiscent of the gutsy Salford side we saw him manage.
Ultimately it shows teams like the Red Devils under new boss Paul Rowley, Castleford under Lee Radford and even Wigan under Matt Peet the importance of taking your time and building a philosophy at a club.
Huddersfield could’ve panicked when things went from in Watson’s first season but they didn’t and now they look like a major contender for silverware.