Wild's growing stature boosts Giants' cause

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The Independent Online

Stephen Wild's success at Huddersfield this season has split his family – and there is plenty of family to split. The Giants' loose forward is one of nine children, who were once united in support of their hometown club, Wigan.

"Now most of them support me, but I think there's still a couple of Wigan scarves hidden in drawers," Wild said this week as Huddersfield prepared for their first-ever play-off match at Hull tonight.

Wild is typical of the team the Giants have put together this season, relying as they do on a number of players who were once rejected elsewhere.

"A lot of players here didn't get a proper chance, like Kevin Brown at Wigan," he said. "He came here, got the chance to play stand-off regularly and he's thrived on it."

Wild has also thrived on a regular role, so much so that he was voted the best loose forward in Super League this week.

"It was more of a team award really," he said. "More of an award for the way that playing with people like Brad Drew has improved my game."

He showed sufficient signs of his potential last year to attract the attention of St Helens during the close season and admits that he considered a move to the game's leading club.

"If it had been any other club I wouldn't have even thought about it, because I love it here, but it's difficult when the best team in Super League is after you.

"I class this as my second home now. I love the way this club is run."

The solidarity behind the scenes at the Galpharm shone through when the Giants held their season together after losing their first seven games.

That was a mark of the resilience that they may well need at the KC Stadium tonight. If they can stand up to fourth-placed Hull for long enough, they have the extra strike power of their mid-season signing, Rod Jensen, to threaten a long-range try that could swing the game.

Hull should have Matt Sing back after a foot injury, while Huddersfield have allayed fears about Chris Thorman's shoulder and, looking a little further ahead, have to decide how determined they are to keep Robbie Paul.

The former Bradford half-back's contract is up and Wigan are among the clubs being linked with him, especially now that it looks likely that a knee operation will force Shane Millard to retire.

Hull KR's former Scottish rugby union winger Jon Steel has been given a new, one-year contract, despite missing most of this season with injury. The Rovers coach, Justin Morgan, said: "Jon is a quality member of the team who has developed as a player since the club got promoted. He is an honest and reliable winger, who will definitely grow stronger with experience."