Huddersfield coach Rick Stone insists his side are treating every one of their Super 8s games like a semi-final as they look to mount an unlikely top-four challenge: admitting a fast start to the split could be paramount.
The Giants are five points shy of fourth-placed Salford going into the Super 8s, ahead of the clash against fifth-placed Wakefield on Friday night at the John Smith’s Stadium.
And Stone believes that while it is not essential for his side to start the Super 8s with a bang, it may well prove to be vital.
When asked if they needed to win at least their first couple of games, Stone said: “It’s not absolute but it will at least keep us in touch with those leading teams and be within striking distance to be able to be close enough in the last couple of rounds.
“We’re not too concerned with expectations outside of us but we’ve got our own expectations. We’ve performed well over the last couple of months and we’re looking to win as many games as possible. If it’s enough to get in the four that’s a big bonus.”
However, following an impressive run of form over the last two months to force their way into the top eight, Stone admits his side are feeling confident of claiming further scalps over the next seven weeks.
He said: “It’s a big opportunity for us. We understand the enormity of the task but we’ll take it one week at a time and prepare pretty much like it’s a semi-final every week over the next seven weeks. We should be fresh and keen come Friday night.
“We’re in not too bad a place. We’ve got a few injuries like most clubs at this time of the year, but we’ve got to just try and produce our best 17 and put our best foot forward.”
Stone will receive a boost for Friday with the return of centre Jordan Turner – but Michael Lawrence is still a doubt following his long-term knee injury.
Stone said: “Jordan will be a definite starter for this week which is good. Michael Lawrence is 50-50 but he’s still finding his feet after a long period off his legs. He’s just trying to get his agility back and that’s slowly coming back. Whether it’s this week, next week or the week after, we’ll wait and see.”