Hock presence immaterial to Brown
Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown is confident his side can maintain their impressive record against Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium, whether or not they face Gareth Hock.
The 27-year-old yesterday completed a two-year ban for use of cocaine and, after training with the Warriors for the last two months, has been named in coach Michael Maguire's 19-man squad for tomorrow evening's Engage Super League match against the Giants.
Maguire, who has yet to see Hock in action having arrived at the club during his suspension, will not unveil his line-up until an hour before kick-off, with Liam Farrell also in contention to replace the suspended Chris Tuson.
Brown may well discover the opposition team beforehand from his captain Kevin Brown, who is Hock's brother-in-law, but he is not concerned either way.
"I'm well aware that Gareth Hock is quite a fine player," he said. "The reality is Wigan have got a lot of good players and, whether Gareth Hock plays or Liam Farrell plays, it's not for us to really worry about.
"Obviously when a bloke hasn't played for two years he's not going to be near his best but he's very physical and keen. He's quite an aggressive player and adds something to their team."
It was that aggression that got Hock into trouble against Huddersfield three years ago when he was sent off for grabbing the arm of referee Ian Smith, an offence which earned him a five-match ban.
That match was the first of three consecutive away victories for the Giants over Wigan, and Maguire acknowledges the Yorkshiremen are guaranteed to provide another difficult test for the champions.
"They've always been tough ones and very physical," he said. "They're a team that shift the ball around and put on some decent play. We're expecting nothing different this weekend."
Wigan have already beaten Huddersfield this year, a 20-6 victory at the Galpharm Stadium in March, and found their best form of the season in last week's 32-10 derby win at St Helens.
"I thought that was the best I've seen them play for a period of time," said Brown. "They were well ahead of St Helens on the night. They have good players all across the park."
Maguire was delighted with his team's big win and is hoping that form can take them back to the top of the table.
"We saw some real good signs of improvement at the weekend and we want to take that forward," he said.
Hull KR will seek to lift the pressure on coach Justin Morgan and kick-start their play-off campaign when they visit fellow strugglers Harlequins RL tomorrow.
With just one win from their last four matches, Rovers are five points adrift of eighth-placed Hull FC but their next four games are all against teams in the bottom six.
"I think the next month of fixtures will dictate on how good a season we're going to have," said Morgan. "It starts with this one. It's a huge game in the context of the season."
With the exception of the opening-weekend win over Hull at the Millennium Stadium, Rovers have yet to win away from home in Super League this year but they have triumphed on each of their last two visits to the Twickenham Stoop.
Harlequins expect to have skipper Rob Purdham back from the shoulder injury which has forced him to sit out the last 10 matches as they look to follow up last week's much-needed 40-22 win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
In tomorrow's other game, Catalan Dragons have France front rower Remi Casty back after a six-match absence with a knee injury for the visit of Castleford Tigers.
Casty takes the place of Sebastien Raguin, who is the only Dragons player to start every match for the club this year but loses his record after being handed a one-match ban.
Castleford's teenage outside back Greg Eden is poised to make his Super League debut as the Tigers look to complete the double.