In the realms of social media every Thursday we deliver a throwback: A baby picture, last holiday, last birthday – whatever it may be. On Thursday night the Huddersfield Giants delivered a #TBT of their own. A throwback to just last season in fact as they dominated Hull FC with their fantastic kicking game and rock solid defence.
For interim Head Coach Andy Kelly it’s two Super League wins from two with a Ladbrooks Challenge Cup defeat sandwiched between them.
With Ken Davy and company on the lookout for their next permanent Head Coach Kelly has done himself no harm by seemingly changing the culture of a team in the short time he has been there.
Having met Kelly many times during my time at Huddersfield what I can say is he is a fantastic man manager. Putting anybody he comes into contact with at ease. A nervous yet hopeful Ryan Conway wandered into his office one June morning to get some quotes for a news story and after a firm handshake and some casual small talk we began. What seemed a daunting task became an enjoyable ten minutes in the company of a jovial character who clearly articulated his assessment of the Huddersfield Giants’ academy sides.
This type of personality teamed with his coaching ability has got Huddersfield’s first team playing the right way again. Having been around the club, and indeed the game as a whole, for so long then would the Giants be missing a trick if they did not give Kelly the job on a full time basis? Perhaps, one can never tell in hypothetical scenarios.
What is almost certain is the change in message has got through to the players and has them enjoying their rugby again. While Paul Anderson did oversee the most successful period in Claret and Gold history the message gets old. Players need new voices and the booming tones of Anderson stopped having an effect.
Huddersfield’s season has been catastrophic from day one. The Brett Ferres fiasco coupled with the laundry list of injuries has not made life easy for the Yorkshire side. The squad has been paper thin all year but the Giants do have promising youngsters in the ranks which Kelly knows all about.
Perhaps that is one of Kelly’s greatest allies. Knowing the academy system. Sam Wood broke into the first team in the Giants’ first game of the season – a heartbreaking home loss against Wigan Warriors – and looked as good a centre as anybody out on the field. Darnell McIntosh and Tyler Dickinson also boast huge potential and have been under the watched eye of Kelly as they have developed their games.
As I write this piece it may strangely coincide with Kelly’s last game in charge of Huddersfield as he will soon be 12,000 miles away in Australia with the England Academy side. So, an interim for the interim? Or will Huddersfield name a permanent captain of the ship?
Three games in charge of the senior side is a small sample size however the work Kelly has done since joining the Giants in 2014 has been there for all to see and on Thursday against Hull FC the players on the field looked like a team again all pulling in the same direction and playing without fear.
It will be hard for Ken Davy to ignore the drastic change in attitude Kelly has brought over the last three weeks. A return to the culture of last season which saw Huddersfield battling for the League Leaders’ Shield on the final day of the Super League season.