It has long been the trend of top flight football managers to employ a rotation policy in an attempt to keep their squad fit and refreshed. But this particular tendency has never really caught on in the world of Rugby League. However, Huddersfield Giants’ head coach Nathan Brown has managed to implement it seamlessly this season, leading to the question, should more clubs follow suit?
Brown has already fielded 27 different players for the Giants this year, despite suffering very few injuries throughout the squad. Unlike John Kear, whose Wakefield side have had to use a number of young players for reasons beyond his control, Brown has opted to blood his youngsters in an attempt to keep his key players fresh.
It doesn’t seem like Brown’s policy of resting key players is hampering Huddersfield’s quest to become genuine title challengers, as they currently find themselves sitting pretty at the top of the Super League table, alongside Warrington Wolves.
With Super League geared mainly towards the end of year play offs, it seems that any position inside the top 8 will suit most coaches in the competition. Little credit is given to the minor champions of Super League, meaning a blip in the middle of the season isn’t likely to hinder your chances of achieving a title. Such is the competition, giving integral players like Kevin Brown, Luke O’Donnell, Lee Gilmour, Eorl Crabtree and David Fa’alogo rests could prove a masterstroke by Brown come the business end of the season.
It seems that Brown now has the whole of his squad playing the ‘Huddersfield way’, including a number of rookies who have made their debuts for the Giants this year. Renowned for their sturdy defence down the middle, and their flair and fluidity in attack, Brown has instilled this mentality throughout his squad.
The age old adage ‘it’s a squad game’ could never be more apt than when describing the current set -up at Huddersfield. With fatigue and injuries bound to play a big part in the season, Brown’s early blooding of his youngsters could prove to be a blessing in disguise when they are needed again. He is by no means short of options, with former Whitehaven starlet Gregg McNally, and highly rated full back Elliot Hodgson, amongst others, still waiting for their chance to shine.
Should he continue the way he has been going, the Giants could have fielded more than 30 players by the time two sides step out onto the turf at Old Trafford in October. If one of them is the Giants, then credit will have to go to the man himself, for crafting a squad full of young British talent, capable of defeating any team in the competition.
If only more of Super League’s coaches gave chances to an abundance of local talent, then the national team would have a far greater chance of ever overcoming the Australians and New Zealanders on a regular basis.