On the surface, Rick Stone’s tenure as Huddersfield Giants head coach has been far from spectacular.
But if you delve a little deeper and pick apart his 18 months in charge, it becomes apparent he has enjoyed relative success.
Stone came in midway through the 2016 season with the Giants slumped at the bottom of the table. Despite slow progress, he ultimately kept them up via the Qualifiers.
The 2017 arrived and few were giving Huddersfield much hope.
Again, a slow start followed, but against the odds Stone guided his side to a top-eight finish, consolidating the Giants in Super League and moving them up the table without garnering too many headlines.
However, there is one thing Stone has failed to discover at the Giants – consistency.
That was pretty apparent as the cracks began to appear against Hull FC in round one. An encouraging first-half was followed by a woeful second period, and the Giants were comprehensively beaten.
Stone’s ultimate goal is to achieve that consistency on a weekly basis. But for now, as the Giants prepare for the visit of Warrington, he’d probably just take an 80-minute display.
“The process doesn’t change too much game by game,” he said.
“You’ve got to be able to build and maintain pressure. Build your play count a little bit so you can take some energy out of the opposition.
“We need to show more composure, blokes have to take more responsibility for their job when they’ve got the ball. That’s a given, that’s part of the game and an individual component of the game within the team game.
“We’ve spoken about that a number of times. It comes back to concentration and how you practice and how you prepare. How consistently you prepare is a general indication of how consistently you play.”
Huddersfield’s next challenge comes in the shape of Warrington, another winless side after they fell to defeat against Leeds.
Stone is expecting a cagey game, with both teams desperate to get off the mark.
“Generally everyone wants to win the first one and when they don’t there’s a bit of bounce factor in week two.
“Two teams coming up against each other are going to be pretty desperate. You don’t want to lose your first game and you definitely don’t want to lose two games in a row. You should see two pretty desperate teams on Thursday.
“They’ve got a good, skilful pack with a lively hooker and some outside backs who can bring the ball back well. I think Kev Brown and Tyrone Roberts are going to be good foils for each other in the halves. They’re a formidable team. They have some high hopes, I’m not sure if we saw the best of them last week, which I think is to be expected for a new coach and a few new players.”