Bradford Bulls: Fielden and Kopczak add spice to tasty clash with red-hot Giants (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford Bulls: Stuart Fielden and Craig Kopczak add spice to tasty clash with red-hot Giants
Earlier this month, legendary former Bulls prop Stuart Fielden helped Huddersfield to victory over Wigan at the John Smith’s Stadium.
It was the Giants’ second scalp of the season after they stuffed St Helens in round one.
It should have been a cause for celebration. It was not.
“Everyone was a bit down in the changing room afterwards,” said Fielden, who joined Huddersfield from the Warriors on a two-year deal.
“The desire to scramble was there and beating Wigan is always a big result but technically we weren't great.
“I’ll be honest, we have been disappointed with how we’ve performed in three of our four games this season, even though we won them all.
Stuart FieldenWe’ve got a very big physical set but it’s not about size – it’s what you do with it
“They were scruffy games and, bar the Saints game in round one, we’ve not hit our straps yet.”
The 33-year-old’s appraisal says much for the desire and ambition pulsing around his club right now.
Huddersfield are the only side in Super League with a 100 per cent record after four rounds.
They will be looking to continue their fine start this weekend when Fielden and Craig Kopczak come up against the Bulls for the first time as Huddersfield players.
Paul Anderson’s acquisition of the pair during the winter has given the appropriately-named Giants the biggest pack in the competition.
It has also led to comparisons with the ‘Awesome Foursome’ quartet of Anderson, Fielden, Brian McDermott and Joe Vagana, who laid the platform for the Bulls’ era of dominance.
Fielden said: “You can’t compare this Huddersfield pack with the Awesome Foursome.
“That was ten years ago and a completely different era, team and people. The competition has changed unbelievably and I’ve changed a lot myself.
“We’ve got a very big physical set but it’s not about size – it’s what you do with it.
“But we’re going alright and I think the key for us is that we’ve got strength in depth.”
Much of the spotlight will fall on Kopczak during Sunday’s derby clash following his controversial exit from Bradford last September.
The Wales international terminated his contract of employment with his hometown club in the build-up to the final-round trip to Catalan.
He did not inform his team-mates of his decision.
“I don’t knows the ins and outs of Koppy’s reasons for leaving,” said Fielden.
“I got a lot of stick from Bradford fans myself for many years after I left. Sometimes these things happen but Koppy is a great player and can be as good as he wants.
“He’s come on tonnes since I left Bradford in 2006.
“I remember he was going okay then but he’s improved massively.
“After Eorl Crabtree, I think Koppy is the largest lad in our squad but he’s very athletic and is certainly playing very well for us.”
When it became clear that Wigan would not be offering Fielden a new contract last year, he was sounded out about a potential return to Bradford.
The money on offer put paid to that as Fielden explained: “I got a call asking if I was fixed up yet and I said no.
“But you can’t take two-thirds of a pay cut can you?
“I’ve got a life, a family and it’s a job at the end of the day.”
Nevertheless, Fielden’s affiliation to Bradford runs deep and he won every trophy on offer during his time at the club.
In February 2006 he helped the Bulls to their last piece of silverware, being named man of the match and scoring two tries in the World Club Challenge match against Wests Tigers.
Fielden, who gave his time to help drive the pledge last season as well as donating a Grand Final winners’ ring and jersey, said: “I went through a lot at Bradford with a really special group of people.
“We had such a great time but at the same time achieved a lot of great things.
“The only player left from my time there is Langers (Jamie Langley) and there is an entirely new administration staff but I’ve still got an awful lot of affection for the place.
“Franny has assembled a good team and I think they’re definitely going to be challenging for that top eight.
“They’ve got some very good players and I know that Warrington made an offer for John Bateman.
“Jarrod Sammut can be outstanding at times and Chev Walker is a tough, tough player who I won many of my Great Britain caps with.
“There are some very good players there but you can’t be blind and not say it’s going to be a building process.
“Nobody is expecting the Bulls to finish top and their last final was in ’06.
“The main thing is the Bulls didn’t go down, Omar Khan kept them afloat and now they’ve just got to rebuild. I wish them well.”