05th September 2018


Andy Kelly previewed the Academy’s chances of a top four finish as they finish the season with two matches against Wakefield Trinity

Foster Care

Huddersfield Giants Head of Youth Andy Kelly spoke to ahead of the U19s Academy’s final two matches of the regular season, both of which come against local rivals Wakefield Trinity.

The final couple of matches of the regular season begins tonight with an away trip to Wakefield, and after defeating Bradford Bulls last time out, Kelly gave an insight into the importance of being mentally prepared for the game and what can be learned from the away victory over the Bulls:

“There were a couple of things in the Bradford game that bode well for the future. When we played Bradford at home they beat us, they beat us down the middle where they were very strong, and we wilted a little bit. The boys saw that as a challenge going into the away game last time out, they came up with a very resolute, aggressive and controlled approach and it got us through the game. Bradford are not a bad academy side and up to that point, like us, were competing for a top four spot, so to go away from home and show some mental robustness was good.

“What we’re expecting against Wakefield is what we expect every week, that we’re taking on an opponent who are capable of beating us. Irrespective of form, and form would suggest that this may be comfortable for us, when I referred a number of weeks ago to the mental attributes that the players need to be successful at the higher levels, they have to be more adept mentally. If we get it wrong mentally then this will be a very competitive game, if we play to form and approach it with the same intensity that we might for a game against St Helens, Wigan or Leeds then we’ve got a good chance of an away victory.

“The message to the players is to not play with the result mentally. Physically we are probably where we need to be at this stage of the season, but if we get it wrong mentally, which we have done on a couple of occasions this year, we are no different to any other side in the competition outside the top four.”

Irrespective of the result from tonight’s game, Kelly believes that the season can be considered a success and gave a reflection of positives this year has included:

“The season has obviously been a success by nature of the number of players who have made a transition. We’ve seen players play for the new ‘Origin’ concept who are vying to play in academy representative football, there’s also the lads who have debuted in Super League before going on to make more appearances. Then there’s the new intake of players coming in, there’s a couple of England youth players too. We’ve got a good academy, a good system and one that supports the player by giving them the best chance to be successful.

“If you want to look at the league table, it’s been highly successful so far, we’ve got a great opportunity to finish in the top four. We’ve got to play Wakefield home and away, it’s fantastic to finish your normal league season with a home game, I think it’s always nice to be able to sign off properly with families there. Hopefully we can get the right results which would mean that we will go on and make the top four which would mark a step forward as a team. But we have to look at the academy and its cyclic nature. Next year we will have younger players coming through and it will take them a year or two to become the team. That’s been the process from last year when we won seven games to this year where we’ve probably only lost around five to seven games. It’s been a nice turnaround, we’ve talked about the team maturing on and off the field, you see that over a period of time. If you count the scholarship, it’s a two to five-year academy journey before you actually mature into what we see as viable Super League propositions.

“The HGSA have been really good this year in terms of making sure we have supporters there that witness the good work the academy players and coaching staff have done. It’s a nice return having the HGSA and some fans there for home games at Lockwood Park. It does mean something to the players, you can see that when they turn up and there’s a good crowd there. They also helped financially support the academy by diligently collecting admission fees when people previously just used to roll up. They do some of the harder things and we’re really grateful to the HGSA for all their hard work this season.”



Heikki Kovalainen




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