06th February 2019


Simon Woolford spoke to the Press ahead of Giants trip to the South of France.

Foster Care

Simon Woolford knows improving the Giants performance in key areas will be the pivotal aspect to turning over the Catalans Dragons, next Saturday at 5:00pm on Sky Sports.

“We let ourselves down in key areas I thought even though we started the game slow at 8-8 we had them on the back foot in the second half” said Woolford.

“We came up with some things which could have gone a little bit better and it was disappointing the way we finished the game”

Woolford found positives in the performance, particularly with the fringe players drafted in to fill gaps left in key positions due to injury, and that the side remained competitive until the last 20 minutes.

“The positives are that we were in the position to win the game with 20 minutes to go, the guys that came in, Adam Walne, Sam Hewitt, and Izaac Farrell all held their nerve and played well for us.”

“Farrell gained experience and confidence knowing that he can compete at the top level, I thought he made to important tackles earlier in the game and his kicking game was good, he set up a nice try and kicked a goal from the side-line to made it 8-8 so he did a lot of good things.”

The Huddersfield Head Coach expects a major returner for the game in the South of France, but supporters will probably have to wait until the next home game to see their first-choice half-back combination, of Lee Gaskell and Matt Frawley, dovetail as they did in pre-season, but will more than likely see Scott Grix retain the Number 1 jersey after an encouraging performance.

“Aaron Murphy will be back, maybe Gaskell, but it is looking more and more like the Warrington game.”

“Scott Grix is available, he played last week and that was his first hit out didn’t play in any friendly game, so he’ll be better for that this week.”

Woolford has highlighted improvements in the back three, who suffered significant changes after Jermaine McGillvary’s injury in pre-season. He hopes that those combinations will prosper with game-time.

“Our back three needs to improve, there’s some areas where we need to be better as far as their combinations but with Akuila’s playing his first real game with us and Grix’s doing the same, there is a bit of disruption.

“Also, with Darnell training at fullback and having to put him back on the wing for Round 1 that’s not ideal but it is what it is we had to put the best team out possible and that’s what we did.”

On Saturday’s opponents, the reigning Challenge Cup winners suffered a loss to Castleford in Round 1, but Woolford expects the talented French outfit to improve on their Home Debut.

“The Dragons had a reasonably big loss in Round 1 too, they’re a completely different team at home so we’re expecting a better team.”

“They’re a big side got some good players across the park, one thing we need to get right is our defence this week. We need to make sure we right a few wrongs from that second half from the Salford game.”

“They looked like a team that hadn’t played a lot of footy together, they only had one friendly so I think they will be a team which will get better and better every week.”

Similarly, to the Giants, the Dragons have added new recruits in key positions over the off-season, and Woolford believes this, as well as Michael McIllorum’s return, will mean a different Catalans outfit to Week 1.

“They have a new fullback, new half so they will take a little while, McIlorum didn’t play either so he may be back in this week, they will be better for that.”

The Giants have been plagued with injuries in the opening rounds but Woolford has seen speedy recoveries from key players such as Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe and Dale Ferguson.

“Jerry looking good for our next game, he’s looking really good he’s got a few more weeks to go for his rehab to get through but he’s been fantastic, he’s ticked every box so far and he’s actually doing better than the physio would of expected at this stage, he’s had a couple of runs this week already.”

“So I expect next week he’ll build up some high speed and hopefully the week after he’s ready to come into full training and play against Warrington.”

“Leroy is going well, he’s looking at about Round 8 he’s going okay. Fergie got some great news last week we expected him to be 3-4 months, but he’ll be back around Round 5.

Woolford also confirmed that Head of Performance Mark Andrews had returned to Sydney after the Salford game to attend to some family matters and that he will return ahead of the Easter period and continue to liase from overseas with all the staff on training loads and programmes.

Woolford also confirmed that Ukuma Ta'ai and the Club are working through a very complex process regarding his clearance and he’s a slim shot for the Catalan game but should be fine for Week 3 against Warrington.

Heikki Kovalainen




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