FORMER FAVOURITE Brett Ferres is expecting a hostile reception when he makes his first return to Huddersfield Giants with Leeds Rhinos.
Ferres has not played since suffering a torn calf during Rhinos’ Easter defeat at his hometown club Castleford Tigers, but has been named in the initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s Super League clash.
He is “hopeful” of making the 17, but is likely to play in next week’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round rematch if he misses out tomorrow.
Ferres made 72 Super League appearances for Giants from 2012-15 before joining Leeds in December following allegations over his off-field behaviour.
He predicted the reception he gets on his return “probably won’t be a great one”, but insisted: “It is what it is, I’m not too worried about the reaction.
“I’ll go out and play my best for Leeds Rhinos and that’s all it is for me at the end of the day.”
The next two games are vital for both clubs, with Giants bottom of the table and Leeds only two points ahead in 10th place.
The prospect of next week’s Cup meeting on the same ground will add spice to tomorrow’s showdown, but Ferres said Rhinos have to take it one game at a time.
“It’s interesting, I’ve never done that before,” he said of back-to-back fixtures away to the same opposition.
“It’s like a trial and error week. It is a funny one, but they are two separate competitions and this week is very important for us.
“We’ve got to concentrate on the here and now, the two points are very vital for us.
“These last few weeks we’ve been performing a lot better and hopefully we can continue that and get a decent win.”
He added: “I think we should have won at Saints last Friday. If you score 34 points you should win, so it was disappointing we couldn’t back it up with defence, but there were a lot of pleasing signs.
Rhinos have lost nine of their 12 league games so far, but last week’s 38-34 defeat at Langtree Park was their sixth by four points or fewer.
“That’s the difference between the top sides and the bottom sides at the minute,” Ferres conceded.
“The likes of Wigan and Warrington are jagging those wins and we are struggling to do that.
“It’s really important for us to kick on and we need to grind them out and get a result.
“If you look at the league table, it doesn’t look too pretty for us at the minute.
“We need to start knocking some wins off and it’s really important this week we do that.
“We say every week we need to win, but this is a must-win for us.”
The league leaders’ shield was up for grabs the last time Rhinos visited John Smith’s Stadium, seven months ago.
Ferres admitted he is “surprised” to see Giants struggling this year.
“They’ve got some quality out there with the likes of Jermaine [McGillvary] and Leroy [Cudjo],” he said.
“They’ve got lots of good players, but I’m not concentrating on them too much, to be honest. It’s up to them what they do, that is their business.”
Of his chances of playing tonight, Ferres said: “Hopefully I’ll be back. I’ve had a couple of weeks on the sidelines, which has been difficult, but I have trained and passed all the tests.”
Leeds have won one and drawn two of their last three games at the John Smith’s Stadium.