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Huddersfield season preview 2011

By Jake Katborg
BBC Radio Leeds

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown became Giants skipper and made his England debut in 2010

If there were to be a mantra for Huddersfield's players to follow in 2011, it would be 'more of the same, please'.

The club has made giant strides in recent seasons - from perennial under-achievers, to Challenge Cup finalists, to genuine title contenders in the space of five years.

Much credit must go to previous coaches Tony Smith and Jon Sharp who laid the foundations for current incumbent Nathan Brown to build on.

But the 37-year-old Aussie has made the job his own.

After leading the Giants to third place and that Challenge Cup final appearance against Warrington in his first full season at the Galpharm Stadium, Brown's side proved last summer that it was no fluke.

They finished fifth, pulling off one of the victories of the season when they won at Wigan on the night their hosts were poised to seal the title shield.

And they then reached the play-off semi-finals, in which they even briefly threatened to ruin St Helens' final night at Knowsley Road before being beaten 42-22.

That was quite a comeback from a team who looked set to lose their coach when, in May, Brown announced his decision to return to his native Australia.

But, come season's end, he had decided to stay for another season.

And, despite the loss of prolific goal-kicking full-back Brett Hodgson to Warrington, that has given hope to Giants fans that they could land their first silverware of the Super League era.

New Giants captain Kevin Brown told BBC Radio Leeds: "Improvement would be in how we perform consistently - we had a bit of blip last year so we don't want one of them.

"We want to be consistent every week and individually improve on our games and we're all working hard to do that.

Jamie Simpson
Jamie Simpson scored a hat-trick in the 2009 Sydney derby

"When we bring that together we improve as a team and I'm sure if do that, then come the end of the year we'll put ourselves in a spot where we can do really well and get some silverware.

"That's what everyone here is aiming for and we're no different, so that's the goal for us."

The Giants launch the new season against Hodgson and his new side Warrington, their 2009 Wembley conquerors, in what will be the first match of the Millennium Magic weekend. And Brown insists the squad is raring to go.

"We're pretty well prepared," he said. "We've had a really good pre-season and the new boys have picked things up really well and we're in a good spot for the start of the season."

One of those "new boys" is Australian centre Jamie Simpson, who has joined the Giants on a three-year contract after his early release by South Sydney.

The 24-year-old arrived in the UK this week but is unlikely be involved at the weekend.

"I said to my manager halfway through last year that I wouldn't mind going over to England to play," said Simpson.

"About two weeks after saying that, I was watching a television game and it happened to be the Giants, and now a year down the track I'm here.

"It's a bit of a change - I want to come over here and accomplish new things and hopefully help the Giants get to a final and win it."

BBC Radio Leeds will once again be the home of West Yorkshire rugby league for the 2011 season and will have commentary of all three matches from the Magic Weekend in Cardiff.



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