Huddersfield Giants head coach Simon Woolford has backed his side to perform without Jermaine McGillvary, ahead of their opening round clash with Salford Red Devils on Friday.
The 30-year-old could miss the first two months of the season, after tearing his hamstring in the club’s 28-24 defeat to Wakefield Trinity in pre-season. The winger hobbled off the pitch during the defeat last Tuesday, meaning the club will start the season without him and centre partner Leroy Cudjoe.
But with the likes of former Fiji winger Akuila Uate, who the Giants’ coach conceded will take time to excel after a ‘disrupted pre-season’ and experienced Super League centre Jordan Turner in the ranks, Woolford believes his side will manage without the two England internationals.
“Obviously, it’s not great, but we feel we’ve got some depth in the outside backs,” he said. “Jerry is one of our key players and he’s not going to be around for three or four weeks, but it could have been a lot worse. We’ve moved on from that and we’ve trained without him, but I’m sure they guys who come in will do a good job and we’ll be okay. Akuila Uate has had a disrupted pre-season so we’ll see the best of him as we get into some more games. He won’t be at his best on Friday night, but he’ll certainly do a job for us.”
And Woolford that the style of rugby the Giants play at the start of the season ‘won’t be the prettiest’ after they have amended their brand of football, and urged his side to dig deep and make sure the high-profile absentees are not made apparent.
“It’ll be a little bit different from last season, and we’ve changed a few things,” he added. “But, at this time of the year the conditions won’t allow us to play in the same way we did at the back end of last year. We’ll need to tighten that up a bit and focus on playing for field position and possession rather than being too expansive.
“It won’t be the prettiest early on, in February and March, but we need to roll our sleeves up and work hard. If we do that then there’s no reason why we can’t get off to a good start.”