Sharp work drives Giants

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The Independent Online

There was widespread expectation that Huddersfield might struggle in Super League this season, but, if they continue to acquit themselves well against Bradford today, it will be time to start taking them seriously as candidates for the top half of the table.

Along with St Helens, the Giants are the only unbeaten team in all competitions this season. Given how closely their improvement last season seemed to depend on the coaching of Tony Smith, now departed for Leeds, that is already a fine achievement.

The capacity for hard work of his successor, Jon Sharp, is becoming legend. You could detect the same work ethic in their approach to the pre-season. While other clubs jetted off for warm-weather training in exotic locations - with varying degrees of success reflected in their performances since - Huddersfield prepared at an army camp in North Yorkshire.

That unpretentious attitude has served them well and their success so far this season is all the more remarkable for being achieved without arguably their most important player, the former Bradford middle-back, Brandon Costin.

Costin is rated only 50-50 to return against the Bulls, but Huddersfield will have another of their main contributors, Paul Reilly, available at full-back after being cleared on a striking charge.

Bradford will have Robbie Paul on deck for the first time this season, but it is unclear just where they will use him.

Paul is primarily a half-back, but the original plan was to use him at hooker this season. In his absence, caused by the slow healing of a broken arm, Aaron Smith has done such a good job as James Lowes' successor that he is unlikely to be discarded at this stage.

Other alternatives are that Paul could be drafted in at full-back, where Michael Withers could be missing with a neck strain, or eased back via the substitutes' bench.

Either way, it will be an enormous relief to the Bulls' captain to be back in the action, having made just one appearance since last July. "Although I've kept my spirits up, it has been a frustrating time," said Paul.

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