Huddersfield coach Rick Stone has insisted that their Super 8s campaign starts this weekend – and that the next three games will be vital in determining whether they have a chance of making the top four.
Having qualified for the top eight with a game to spare, the Giants face fifth-placed Hull on Friday night looking to claw back further ground on the play-off places ahead of the split for the Super 8s.
And Stone insists that the next few weeks will be crucial in determining whether they can put together an unlikely title challenge.
He said: “For us, the Super 8s starts this weekend. Now we’ve qualified, there’s a chance for us to head north in the table and it’s an important game for us this week.
“If we want to take part in the play-offs in a few weeks’ time, then the first few game are really important. If we can peg some points back in those games we give ourselves a realistic chance.”
Stone continued: “I looked at the table for the first time last week. Probably our first three games, including this one, are really important for us.
“If we can be successful in this first couple and keep in touch with the teams around fourth or fifth, that’ll give us a genuine crack at making it in the last few weeks I think.”
Stone will welcome back loan half-back Martyn Ridyard into the fray for this weekend’s game, too.
He said: “Ridyard is back in the mix, he couldn’t play against Leigh, and maybe Alex Mellor comes back in the mix as well. But I think that’s all we’d get back in there. The forward pack we’ve got is steady at the moment; another back-rower would be nice but we’ve chopped and changed a bit with our forwards through necessity – but Oliver Roberts and Dale Ferguson will probably stay there.”
However, Michael Lawrence and Jordan Turner are still not ready to return from their respective lay-offs. “They’re getting close but I don’t think they’ll feature until we get into the Super 8s,” Stone said of the duo.
The transfer deadline is this Friday for business ahead of the Super 8s – and Stone was coy when asked if there was likely to be any further business coming in and out at Huddersfield before then.
“I’m not sure. I know it’s only a couple of days to go, but never say never,” he said. When asked if any business would be incoming or outgoing, he again said: “Again, I’m not sure.”