Giants eye another big scalp
Huddersfield Giants go to Warrington Wolves tomorrow aiming to complete a clean sweep of wins over Super League’s big four.
The Giants have already claimed the notable scalps of Wigan Warriors, St Helens and champions Leeds Rhinos to open up a three-point lead over their rivals with a quarter of the season gone.
Victory over the Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tomorrow would take them five points clear of the title favourites and underline their own credentials, not that coach Paul Anderson sees it that way.
“I couldn’t care less what message it sends,” said the single-minded Anderson. “All I know is we’ve got to keep doing what we do.
“It would be two points. Rounds one to 27 is all about jostling for positions and, if we want to get to where we need to be, we’ve got to beat them in September and October.
“We’re accumulating points as we go along and we’d love to accumulate another two this week but history tells you being top at this time doesn’t mean anything.”
The Giants, who have lost their last five meetings with Warrington, topped the table up to April last year before falling away badly in the second half of the season and are ranked as the fifth favourites with the bookmakers to claim the league leaders’ shield.
Anderson is content for his side to be written off, confident that he will have the last laugh at the critics.
“I don’t really care what people think,” he said. “We’ve got to not let outside influences get in the way of things, otherwise if people keep telling us we can’t do something we’ll start to believe it at some point.
“We’ll ignore it and get on with what we do. Our theory of taking it day by day is working for us. We’re happy with where we’re at but there is still lots of improvement to come.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach Richard Agar will be looking for his side to prove they can perform without influential scrum-half Tim Smith when Leeds visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium tomorrow.
Kyle Wood, who has primarily been used on the bench to provide cover for hooker Paul Aiton, made only his second start for the club in last week’s 52-18 defeat at St Helens in the absence of the Australian playmaker, last year’s player of the year who is out with a calf injury.
Wood limped out of the game at half-time with a dead leg but has recovered and will renew his half-back pairing with Paul Sykes.
“Woody has been looking forward to an opportunity to play scrum-half,” said Agar. “That’s the position we think he is. He’s a natural number seven. I thought he did a terrific job in the first half last week and he was hugely disappointed when he had to come off with a dead leg.
“It goes without saying that Tim Smith is a loss. If you take Michael Dobson out of Hull KR and Lee Briers out of Warrington, you are going to lose a bit but we’re lucky to have a back-up as good as Kyle.”
Wakefield will be aiming to repeat last year’s 38-18 victory over Leeds but Agar has been impressed by the champions’ start to the season.
“I think Leeds this year are looking extremely fit,” he said. “They’re a strong, powerful team with lots of ball carriers and brilliant individuals that can produce plays when nothing is on.
“We’ve a number of players with a Leeds connection and I thought we had some good games with them last year. If we can reproduce that quality of game, it should be a spectacle.”
In tomorrow’s other game, St Helens have captain Paul Wellens back from injury for the visit of bottom club Salford City Reds to Langtree Park.
The former Great Britain full-back, who has been out for a month with a calf problem, is likely to make his return at loose forward, with Tommy Makinson or Nathan Ashe taking the place of Jonny Lomax at full-back.
Hooker Dom Speakman, who turns 19 tomorrow, is set to make his debut as a replacement for the injured James Roby.