Giants boss relishing French trip
Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown is hoping the sun will shine on his side’s Stobart Super League title prospects after arriving in the south of France for their table-topping clash with Catalan Dragons.
The Giants escaped the cold snap by flying to Perpignan 48 hours ahead of tomorrow’s game as they look to consolidate their place at the top of the table.
“It’s great,” said Brown. “I don’t think there is any side that doesn’t enjoy making the trip, even though they know it is a hard game.
“I really enjoy going to Catalan. It is a totally different fixture to any other that you play in the competition.
“You are visiting a coastal town that may be 25 degrees and sunny. More than just the Aussies look forward to going there.”
The trip to France will be no picnic for Brown’s men, however. The Dragons are only four points behind the Giants with a game in hand and are unbeaten at Stade Gilbert Brutus this season.
Brown knows how tough it is to win in Perpignan, having seen his side go down 13-12 there last season, courtesy of a long-range drop goal from Scott Dureau, and is full of admiration for the free-flowing style of rugby played by Trent Robinson’s men.
“The Dragons are a challenging side, the stadium has a good atmosphere and, with a bit of luck, you get some good weather so you can play a bit of footy,” he added.
Like Huddersfield, the Dragons are going for glory on both fronts, having reached the last eight of the Carnegie Challenge Cup, in which they face a tricky quarter-final against Warrington Wolves next Sunday.
“We’ve got a couple of big home games coming up,” said Robinson. “It will be a big test. We’ve a couple of big weeks now.”
Robinson welcomes the return of full-back Clint Greenshields, with Thomas Bosc set to move on to the wing in place of youngster Damien Cardace, while Huddersfield are also virtually at full-strength.
Skipper Kevin Brown returns, along with Eorl Crabtree, Michael Lawrence, Jermaine McGillvary and Larne Patrick after being rested for the cup tie against Swinton, but Lee Gilmour stayed behind in England to be with his wife, who is due to give birth to their second child on the day of the game.
Teenage full-back Matthew Russell is set to make his debut for Hull FC against Leeds Rhinos at the KC Stadium tomorrow.
He has joined the Black and Whites on loan from Wigan Warriors to replace the departed Australian Wade McKinnon, while Leeds welcome back second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who has missed the last three months with a knee injury.
“It is good to have Jones back,” said Rhinos coach Brian McDermott. “We have certainly missed him while he has been out.
“He has been itching to get back out there but we have made sure he has passed the necessary tests and he is ready to go now.”
Leeds have won their last 11 matches against Hull, including six in a row at the KC Stadium, but McDermott is anticipating a difficult test.
“Hull are always a tough side and I am expecting nothing less on Saturday night, especially at the KC Stadium.
“They have had a fortnight to prepare for this game, having been knocked out of the Challenge Cup, and I am sure they will want to end a run of three consecutive defeats.”