Huddersfield Giants have to get tougher in 2015, according to captain Danny Brough.
Indeed, the Scotland international believes the West Yorkshire side will have to “put their head where it hurts” in order to improve next season.
The Giants once again flattered to deceive in the play-offs in 2014; after finishing third and just a point off top spot in the regular season, they limped out of the play-offs with two straight defeats to Wigan and the Catalans.
Brough believes that the top teams have the ability to kick on in the play-offs, which the Giants have failed to do in the last two seasons.
“We’ve got to get tougher,” Brough told League Express.
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“As a team and a squad, we’ve got to play harder. You’ve got to put your head where it hurts and take all the cuts and bruises that come with it, and we’ll have to do that next year if we’re to improve.
“I put it down to not putting your body on the line in big games, and I think we did that – me and everyone. I think that’s happened over the past few years, and whilst people can say what they want, we haven’t been good enough when it has mattered.
“It’s okay getting in the top three, but you haven’t achieved anything by doing that. You have to kick on, and that’s what the very best teams do.”
Brough suffered an eye-watering injury during Huddersfield’s game against Hull FC late in the regular season, but returned for the defeat to Catalan in the play-offs. And he insisted that his poor performance that night may have added fuel to the fire that he was rushed back. But he insists that it was his decision to play.
“I felt fine in myself in that game; I had a few bellyaches along the way, but nobody rushed me back,” he said.
“I told them I was fit, and nobody forced me to play. But it’s because I didn’t play so well that it probably makes it look a bit worse.”
The Giants skipper is currently with the Scotland squad for the European Championship. He will play his final game when Scotland host France on Friday night at Galashiels. Victory, or even a defeat by 17 points or less, would see the Scots qualify for the Four Nations in 2016 when the tournament next comes to Europe.
Brough confirmed that he is not planning on taking a break after the tournament, instead jumping back into pre-season training with the club, and ruling out the possibility of going back late into pre-season like many of the Giants players did after last year’s World Cup.
“I spoke to Baloo, and like any coach he didn’t want his players playing on the international scene after a long season in Super League,” added Brough.
“However, it’s something I wanted to do; he gave me the option and I jumped at it.
“I’m going straight back into pre-season training after this, so I won’t really be having a break. Baloo’s worry was that eight or nine of us missed pre-season last year after the World Cup, so I told him I’d be back in from the start of November.”