Huddersfield Giants will go into the new Super League season with a new import who will skipper the side. Ben Long talks about their chances in 2020.
This is a fairly obvious call. Former Canberra Raiders and Gold Coast Titans halfback, Aidan Sezer, is one of the highest-profile signings the Giants have made in recent seasons and will have a massive bearing on their campaign.
We saw with Salford last season how much of an impact a top-quality scrumhalf can have on a team’s season; it is the most important attacking position on the rugby league field.
Sezer brings with him 155 NRL appearances under his belt, a wealth of experience and the expectations regarding both Huddersfield supporters and intrigued Super League supporters as a whole will be relatively high.
It would be fair to say the signing of Matt Frawley on the whole didn’t work out last season so head coach Chris Thorman will be determined to get this one right.
Scrumhalf Sezer will be tasked with guiding Huddersfield round the park, taking the majority of control over the tactical kicking game and organising the set plays during attacking situations. It will be interesting to see how he combines with the much-improved Lee Gaskell.
If Sezer’s performance level gets close to emulating his NRL displays for Canberra a lot of the Giants’ season comes down to whether or not he stays fit.
ARRIVALS:Chester Butler, Kenny Edwards, Joe Wardle, Ashton Golding, James Gavet,
Aidan Sezer, Owen Trout.
While still quite raw in some departments, Kruise Leeming is a very talented young hooker and his guile, defensive work-rate and evasive dummy-half-runs will be missed.
His distribution, while slightly inconsistent, was improving last season and he is an enigma of a player that has something different about him which puts uncertainty in the minds of the opposition; he takes risks and has the skill set to come up with the unexpected. His development at Leeds will be intriguing.
DEPARTURES:Alex Mellor, Jordan Rankin, Scott Grix, Sebastine Ikahihfo, Kruise Leeming.
1. Ashton Golding, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Jake Wardle, 4. Jordan Turner, 5. Darnell McIntosh, 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Aidan Sezer (captain), 8. James Gavet, 9. Adam O’Brien, 10. Suaia Matagi, 11. Kenny Edwards, 12. Joe Wardle, 13. Michael Lawrence, 14. Matthew English, 15. Oliver Wilson, 16. Aaron Murphy, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 18. Paul Clough, 19. Akuila Uate, 20. Oliver Roberts, 21. Leroy Cudjoe, 22. Tom Holmes, 23. Oliver Russell, 24. Louis Senior, 25. Innes Senior, 26. Sam Hewitt, 27. Sam Wood, 28. Adam Walne, 29. Jon Luke Kirby, 30. Reiss Butterworth, 31. Chester Butler, 32. Owen Trout, 33. Dominic Young.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Having established themselves firmly as a consistent top six side during the first half of the decade just gone, the Giants spent the second half of the decade underachieving more often than not but doing more than enough to survive. Last season in truth was forgettable to say the least.
The odd promising win here and there including the famous 56-2 thrashing of Hull at the Magic Weekend but no real consistency and a tendency to fall away during the final quarter of games.
A lot of supporters of the game are tipping the Giants for relegation but I believe if the robust, dynamic Simon Woolford can get the best out of the likes of Aidan Sezer, Kenny Edwards, Jermaine Mcgillvary and Darnell Mclnotsh, they should have enough quality and strike to remain in the competition.
Sezer staying fit in particular is paramount to the Giants this season should he get close to the level of quality he was performing at in his time at Canberra. In addition to that the arrivals of Edwards and James Gavet should result in the Giants being a moderately stronger and more aggressive proposition in the forwards; young homegrown prop Matty English is improving too.
They should have enough firepower up front against the weaker sides but will still struggle against the top sides. I do feel that the Giants will stay up but they need to make the John’s Smiths a fortress, drastically improve consistency, mental toughness, fitness and attacking execution if they are to mount a surprising top 5 challenge.
The opening five games of a team’s campaign are, while not definitive, very important for hitting the ground running and finding early momentum.
The Giants have traditionally started the season slowly in recent years and could really do with a positive start to 2020 or confidence levels in the camp will be low as the memories of a difficult 2019 will need to be erased.
Looking a bit deeper into their start, their opening five fixtures are Catalan away, Leeds at home, Salford away, Hull Kingston Rovers away and Wigan at home.
Not a particularly daunting start at all for the Giants, getting a result against Wigan will be an uphill task but they are playing Catalan away at the best possible time, Salford and Hull KR are both winnable away games and they should be particularly motivated and fired up for their first home game of the season, having been humiliated by the Rhinos last time out.
The Giants could definitely have been dealt a far worse hand regarding their opening fixtures so they should be targeting a minimum of three wins out of five if their aspirations of a top five charge are serious.
Leading Tryscorer: Jermaine McGillvary
Leading Pointscorer: Aidan Sezer
Player of 2020: Aidan Sezer