Is it time for Huddersfield to start making Giant steps towards the play-offs? Their strengthened pack seems to suggest so.
But they aren’t all just about the power up front. Sure the arrival of Skandalis from the NRL is a good one, but the key playmakers of the side – Drew, Thorman and Paul – are crucial for the progress of the club.
Their Challenge Cup final appearance last season, which featured that brilliant win over Leeds in the semi final, shows the potential for this side, but it’s time for them to find the consistency that will help them maintain a playoff push throughout the season.
The backs have been bolstered by the arrival of proven NRL stars Lolesi and Elford, who join Reilly, Brown and Aspinwall in a fairly decent Super League standard back line. It’s the pack though that attracts the most attention. Darrell Griffin has signed from Wakefield, and together with Keith Mason, provides the perfect foil for man-mountains Crabtree and Skandalis.
The forgotten man of Super League, Ryan Hudson, back from his 2 year drugs ban, might just prove his doubters wrong and be the fourth playmaker in this side. Operating in the pack, he could provide the technical ability and know-how to co-operate with the ever so consistent Brad Drew, and give a great platform not only to the forwards, but to the half backs.
But have the Giants really got the quality strength in depth to compete in what is an extremely competitive league now? On paper, no would be the correct answer. Their quality in reserve isn’t really up to the standards of mid table rivals Salford and Warrington. But their overall quality does match up to the likes of Harlequins and Catalans.
Can coach Jon Sharp guide this team to the playoffs? It’ll take a lot of doing. It is probably easier to name 6 teams better than Huddersfield than 6 teams worse, so they would have to overachieve to come home in a play-off spot.
9th – the victim of an improved top 8.