14th March 2018, 12:56 | Huddersfield
Huddersfield Giants stand-off Rankin knows the outcome of his club’s bottom-four clash against newly-promoted Hull KR at the John Smith’s Stadium could be crucial in the final reckoning.
With strong challenges coming from Championship clubs Toronto Wolfpack, Toulouse and London Broncos in particular this year, the scramble by Super League clubs to avoid the Betfred Super 8s Qualifiers promises to be more intense than ever.
Both Huddersfield and Hull KR found themselves in a relegation dogfight two years ago and Rovers will need no reminding that defeat in their last match of the regular season to the Giants condemned them to a place in the Million-Pound Game which proved their downfall.
Huddersfield coach Rick Stone insists he does not look at the league table but Rankin is an avid student of the game.
“I watch every game nearly every weekend,” Rankin said. “I find all the scores and see the table.
“I like to keep up to date with how we’re going, especially with the relegation. You want to know where you are and what you need to do to stay out of relegation.
“From round one to round 23 you’re fighting for your life pretty much. It’s important to get those wins because you don’t want to be in the bottom four come the back end of the season.”
Huddersfield, who won at Widnes last Friday, will propel themselves into the top half of the table if they can post back-to-back victories for the first time since July, while the Robins will climb out of the bottom four if they can claim a second win since their return to the top flight by eight points.
“It’s always a bit tough coming up from the Championship, trying to get players on board,” Rankin said. “They’ve obviously got Danny McGuire and we know what he can do.
“They’ve struggled a bit at the start but Timmy Sheens is a quality coach. Any side coached by him are going to throw some stuff at you so we’ve got to be prepared for anything.
“They’re due for a win at some point, hopefully it’s not going to be against us.”
Australian Rankin, now in his second spell in Super League after previously playing for Hull FC, played full-back for the last three months of his first season with Huddersfield in the absence of Jake Mamo but has slotted into his favourite stand-off role this year and is relishing the opportunity to partner the vastly-experienced Danny Brough.
“It’s good to work in one position and it’s working well with Broughy,” he said. “The combination is coming along well.
“We communicate quite well together and he relinquishes quite a bit responsibility which I’m quite happy to take off his shoulders.
“The more pressure I can take off him frees him up to play a bit more footy. It’s something we’ve been working really hard on.
“I said to Stony in pre-season that I wanted to take a little bit of pressure off him and be a bit more of a dominant player within the team.”