Stuart Fielden plays down his Wigan reunion
Friday 15 February 2013
When Stuart Fielden takes the field for Huddersfield against Wigan this afternoon he will have made more appearances for his new club than he did for his old employers over the last two seasons.
The former Great Britain prop managed just two first-team games for Wigan over the last two years, thanks to a depressing series of injuries.
Fielden's luck could finally have turned with his transfer to the Giants. He has figured strongly in their two victories so far and faces the club with whom he spent six seasons today.
"The fact that it's Wigan is obviously not lost on me, but it really is just another game," insisted the 33-year-old front-rower. "I just want to keep building on the start I've made here and to help to keep us at the top of the table."
As a former team-mate in the mighty Bradford packs of the 1990s, head coach Paul Anderson knows what a fit Fielden still has to offer and has used him as a starting prop for what is traditionally the toughest part of the game for a front-row forward.
What he will not have from now on is the contribution of the former Australian Test back-rower, Luke O'Donnell, who has returned home to the Sydney Roosters despite having a year left on his Huddersfield deal.
The Giants are sorry to lose a player of undeniable quality, but not as sorry as they would have been if his injury record had been better. In his two years with them, he played less than half the possible number of games.
He is joining a hugely ambitious club, whose other signings include the dual New Zealand international, Sonny Bill Williams, and whose new coach is the former Catalan Dragons man, Trent Robinson.
For today's match at the John Smith's Stadium, Anderson covers for O'Donnell's departure by calling up Jacob Fairbank and Anthony Mullally, a winter signing from Widnes, with Luke George also missing out.
Wigan are also unbeaten this season, although they dropped a point at home to Warrington last weekend. Shaun Wane names an unchanged 19, with Paul Prescott, a late withdrawal from that game, due to see a specialist this week.
Gareth O'Brien is in line to make his debut for Castleford at Bradford this evening, after joining them on a one-month loan from Warrington. The stand-off has been recruited as cover for Rangi Chase, who is starting a two-match ban for a reckless tackle on Zak Hardaker during the shock win over Leeds last weekend.
O'Brien made 10 Super League appearances for the Wolves last season, but the Warrington coach believes he can afford to let him go temporarily. "I've been an admirer of Gareth for some time," said the Tigers' coach, Ian Millward. "Tony Smith speaks highly of him, both as a person and a player."
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