Huddersfield Giants: Paul Anderson will be looking for consistency in 2013
Huddersfield need to find a way to maintain their form if they are to become serious contenders in the play-offs.
Last Updated: 01/02/13 2:24pm
Another start that suggested so much promise, another finish that left fans wondering just where it all went wrong. The 2012 campaign was an all-too familiar story for those involved with the Giants.
They managed 14 wins in total to finish the regular season in seventh place, good enough for a play-off berth. However when you work out nine of those triumphs came in their first 11 outings, it shows how much it all unravelled at the John Smith's Stadium (formerly the Galpharm).
Nathan Brown engineered another superb beginning, starting out with an away victory at Wigan and then also toppling big guns St Helens and Leeds in the opening months.
But it all started to go wrong in May with three straight defeats, and by July - another winless month that included shipping a half-century of points to Castleford Tigers - the wheels had well and truly fallen off the bandwagon.
Having already announced that he would be taking over at St Helens in 2013, a Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Warrington proved to be Brown's last game in charge. Paul Anderson stepped up from his role as assistant and did as much as he could to get the ship back on course.
Fittingly perhaps, a rather disappointing season ended with a resounding play-off loss at the hands of Hull on the road. By then Anderson - promoted ahead of schedule to the top job - had already started planning for the future.
Ins and Outs
After the second-half collapse it was no surprise that Huddersfield opted to make a major overhaul of their playing squad.
Kevin Brown had already announced his impending exit to Widnes during the last summer, a surprising move that meant his successful time with the Giants ended on a flat note. Equally surprising was the departure of Greg Eden to Hull KR after he impressed in the early rounds.
Veterans Lee Gilmour and Keith Mason were allowed to leave for Castleford and David Fa'alogo (Newcastle) and Scott Moore (North Queensland) are now plying their trade in the NRL.
With Moore gone and Luke Robinson set to revert back to scrum-half, Shaun Lunt will get a chance to re-establish himself as first-choice hooker. He at least knows now what it takes to win it all, having spent much of the last campaign on loan to Leeds.
The pack has been strengthened by the arrivals of Stuart Fielden and Craig Kopczak, who took the option to terminate his contract with the Omar Khan-owned Bradford Bulls to instead sign a three-year deal with their Yorkshire neighbours.
The only acquisition from overseas has been Ukuma Ta'ai, a strong-running forward from the New Zealand Warriors. The 25-year-old is scheduled to spend the next three years with Huddersfield, though that is subject to red tape issues over his visa being sorted out.
Chris Roberts writes about the Giants for the Huddersfield Examiner. Here are his thoughts on the season ahead...
"The Giants will be hoping this week's positive news that marquee signing Ukuma Ta'ai has finally been granted a work permit will help launch their Super League XVIII campaign in spectacular style.
A delay in the explosive former New Zealand Warriors back-row forward's application means he'll miss the Giants' top-flight opener at St Helens on Saturday.
But he's expected to arrive in time to come into contention for Huddersfield's opening home game against London Broncos on Sunday, February 10 - and be a major force in the competition.
Ta'ai is one of several new arrivals for 2013, with former Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden and fellow front-row forward Craig Kopczak from Bradford Bulls also expected to make a massive impact.
The signing of these three is a sign new head coach Paul Anderson is determined to make the Giants a bigger side physically, especially as he's also added ex-Widnes prop Anthony Mullally, who boasts the same vital statistics as Huddersfield and England man-mountain Eorl Crabtree!
This is, of course, Anderson's first pre-season in charge of the club, having taken over from former Giants boss Nathan Brown last July, and he'll clearly be determined to make a positive impression as soon as possible.
And with the personnel at his disposal, there's no reason why this shouldn't be the case.
With inspirational captain and vice-captain Danny Brough and Luke Robinson pulling the strings at half-back, Huddersfield won't be lacking creative spark, especially now hooker Shaun Lunt has returned to the club following his successful Super League Grand Final-winning loan spell at Leeds Rhinos.
On top of that, England centre Leroy Cudjoe is out to make a major mark this year and prove he should be his nation's first-choice three-quarter at this autumn's World Cup. His partnership with winger Jermaine McGillvary could prove a lethal combination.
Like with any club, the key to the Giants' success will be keeping the squad's key man injury-free. If that's the case, another play-off shot will be guaranteed."