Huddersfield still need to earn respect, says Woolford

Huddersfield Giants coach Simon Woolford is aware that rival clubs will sit up and take notice of his side’s shock 12-10 defeat of St Helens on Friday.

But he knows that the Giants must stand up against more Super League heavyweights to earn the respect of the competition.

Woolford’s men produced a heroic defensive effort to repel the reigning champions and tally their fourth win of the campaign, with their only loss being a 42-10 thumping at the hands of Wigan five days earlier.

Huddersfield were only one win clear of the relegated London Broncos in 2019, and while the recruitment of halfback Aidan Sezer has turned their fortunes around in 2020, the coach insists his team must do more to be taken seriously this season.

“We understand people outside our club don’t really respect us yet, and again, we’ve got to earn that,” Woolford said.

“We had three wins early and a lot of people saw those as soft wins. We played Catalans, who were underdone, and then we played Hull KR and Salford, who were struggling, but you’ve still got to turn up and win.

“Last week, we let ourselves down, no doubt about it. That was our first opportunity to show people that this is a different team this year. But I thought we bounced back tonight well and wins don’t get any better than that.”

Huddersfield led Wigan 10-4 before Sezer’s 34th-minute sin-binning for a high shot on Thomas Leuluai turned the tide and helped the Warriors notch seven tries in the final 45 minutes.

But the Giants were forced to leap over much higher hurdles at St Helens on Friday, including first-half injuries to key men Lee Gaskell and Ukuma Ta’ai that reduced their interchange to two after the break, to cling on to a famous upset.

“Last week, things went against us and we didn’t handle it well at all,” added Woolford.

“This week, it was like it was a different team out there. We learned a couple of lessons from last week and it was important, from the group’s point of view, that we bounced back today. We put in a good performance, but to come away with a win like that, under the circumstances, is worth more than two points, that’s for sure.

“It was important that we proved to ourselves that last week was an aberration. We put a lot of work into our defence in the pre-season.

“We were hit with some different types of adversity tonight. We lost a couple of players to injuries but we just kept turning up.

“There are a lot of things with the footy that we’ll get better at and we’ll improve over time. But we need to replicate that effort in defence every week. If we can do it here with 15 men and win, we can do it anywhere.”