Super League is back today! And while these boys don't have squad numbers anymore, that doesn't make them any less important to the progress we make on and off the field. Assisting Rick Stone in getting the best out of our boys are Giants legends Chris Thorman and Luke Robinson. We caught up with them to hear about preseason and their ambitions for the upcoming season
Hi guys. We're coming up to the end of the preseason period now, how do you think things have been going?
Chris: Things have gone well. I have to give credit to the boys that have been in since late October '17. Players like Sam Wood, Daniel Smith, Matthew English, Tyler Dickinson, Jared Simpson and Adam O'Brien have certainly improved themselves physically. If we are going to compete in 2018, it's important these players come to the fore to challenge our more established stars.
Luke, it's been just over a year since you took on the role of U19s coach, how involved are you with the development of the first team?
Luke: I'm the assistant coach underneath Rick and Spuggy, so I am coaching the 1st team every day they are in. Rick and Spuggy take the lead in all facets and I just assist. My role on match days is to run messages from to the players. My primary role within the club is the U19's head coach which, usually starts once the 1sts have finished and the U19's come in from college.
We saw some of the younger lads get a run out against Dewsbury and Workington, and there were some impressive performances. Are there any names in particular you're looking forward to seeing graduate to the first team over the next few years?
Luke: I thought the young lads acquitted themselves extremely well against Dewsbury, but in particular at Workington. The conditions were horrendous and it is very small pitch which catered towards their stronger, older team. The lads never took a backwards step, even though a lot have only just left school and are still 16.
Last year was an inconsistent one for the Giants, what are the club hoping to achieve in 2018?
Chris: In my time at the club we've seen a lot of consistency in our league form. However, we saw that dip in 2016, but improve in 2017. I think we should be looking to improve again in 2018 and be looking to peak come the Super 8s, which should see us challenging in the important games at the end of the season.
What are your personal goals as coaches for 2018?
Chris: Personally I'm always striving to learn more and I get that from a number of ways. I like to read, but also gaining knowledge from other sporting organisations. I'll be looking to see who I can learn from in 2018 and what opportunities present themselves. For the team I'd love to see us have a good Challenge Cup run - I have very fond memories of captaining the team that made the final in 2006 for the first time in 50 years.
Luke: My goals for 2018 are to reach the top 4 playoffs, as I'm not sure how many times, if ever, Huddersfield academy have achieved this. My personal goals are to view different sporting organisations/environments to enhance my own knowledge and theories of practice.
If you could bring any former teammate from your playing days into the current Giants squad, who would you choose and why?
Chris: If we're talking any teammate from my career, I'd have to bring in Nathan Hindmarsh from my Parramatta days. As a back rower, he could do everything - play 80 mins, break tackles, score tries, do the donkey work and 1%s, he was an absolute freak.... he loved a beer too! If it was a former Giants team mate, it would have to be Brad Drew. I loved playing with Dewey. He was intelligent, competitive and skillful. He could play at hooker or in the halves. We had our fair share of run ins mostly about who got the ball the most! But he was great to play with. There doesn't seem to be as many intelligent rugby league players as there once was.
Luke: I have had the pleasure of playing with some amazing players, especially during my time at Wigan and England, but from a Giants perspective it would have to be 2. We lost both Stuart Fielden and Luke O'Donnell mid way through the 2013 season. They were giving me Lunty, Broughy and Grixy an intimating platform to play off that year and, although we still managed the league leaders shield, I feel we lost a bit of our edge from a physical perspective. I truly believe if we had kept them 2 in the team our season would have ended more positively, if not with more silverware in our cabinet.
If you had to sum up your expectations for our 2018 season in 3 words, what would you say?
Chris: Improvement on 2017
Luke: Win a trophy!