Woolford warns Huddersfield will go all out for play-off spot, but expects Saints response

Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford has warned his players to expect a backlash when they face St Helens on Friday.

Justin Holbrook’s men enter the game on the back of their shock Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Catalans last weekend, ending their treble hopes.

Holbrook admitted he was unsure of the consequences the defeat would have on his players.

But the Giants chief, who has overseen a stunning turnaround since taking charge three months ago, has told his players to expect a retaliation rather than a hangover from the league leaders.

“Good teams bounce back and that’s what we’re expecting,” he said.

“The short turnaround will be hard for them. We had a bit of a break early last week and had a couple of sessions transitioning back into training and we’ve had a normal preparation this week leading into Friday so there are no excuses for us.

“They are at the top of the table for a reason. We’ll be preparing for the St Helens side on 40 odd competition points, not the one that got beat on the weekend. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you have off days and unfortunately it was for St Helens last week in a big game.”

Huddersfield’s excellent form has left them with an outside chance of making the play-offs themselves.

While a top-four finish would require a continuation of their current form, coupled with a collapse from one of the current sides in the play-off positions, Woolford insists they’ll give it as good as they’ve got.

“We’ve spoken about it and we’ve all agreed that we want to keep kicking on and see where it gets us.

“It’s a very tough task to make the top four, we all understand that, but one thing we can control is our performances and results. We’ve all agreed to kick on and not put our cue in the rack, then see how far it takes us.

“It is achievable. It’s hard when you need one of the top four teams to really crash and on top of that us win five or six, so it’s a very tough ask but we’re not really focused on the top four, we’re focused on maintaining what we’ve done the last three months and keep getting small improvement.

“We’re confident if we can do that there’s no reason why we at least can’t keep winning. Whether that’s good enough to get us to the top four, we’ll found out in a few weeks time.”

Suaia Matagi is in line to make his debut in the match after arriving at the club last week.

The forward was due to sign from Parramatta Eels for the 2019 season but was granted an early release from his contract to join up with the Giants for the closing stages of the campaign.

His arrival has proved timely for the Giants, with Sebastine Ikahihifo set to miss the rest of the campaign after an ankle operation while Michael Lawrence is set for a couple of weeks on the sideline too.

“With Seb already gone and Bruno now out for two to three games it’s been good timing with Suaia coming over here.

“He’s trained really well, he trained with the team for the first time on Saturday and had two really good sessions since. He doesn’t look out of place at all, he’s certainly going to be a big positive for our team.”