Huddersfield Giants’ Ian Watson reflects on his time at Salford Red Devils

Ian Watson’s legacy at Salford Red Devils is a strange one.

A player for the club, he would go on to become a top tier coach at the AJ Bell Stadium guiding the Red Devils to the 2019 Super League Grand Final in one of the biggest surprises in Super League history.

A year later he took them to Wembley for the first time in years but again came up short on the big stage as they lost 17-16 to Leeds in the Challenge Cup Final.

He left the club at the end of that year tempted by the opportunity to join Huddersfield who were going to give him the perfect backing.

After two shopping sprees, Watson has his ideal Huddersfield squad now including former Salford stars Luke Yates and Tui Lolohea who are key components of Watson’s brilliant Huddersfield side who made it to the Challenge Cup Final earlier this year and are firmly cemented in the top three.

However, Watson’s decision to take over at Huddersfield has changed the way some Salford fans view him but Watson still looks back fondly on his time at the club as he revealed when speaking to Channel 4 ahead of the meeting between his current Huddersfield side and his former club Salford.

“I’m just here with Huddersfield at the moment,” Watson said when asked how he feels returning to the AJ Bell Stadium, “It’s different coming to Salford because it’s only five minutes down the road from where I’m living so it’s nice and easy to get here.

“I enjoyed my time here and I was really honoured to be a Head Coach of Salford because it was a club I grew up playing and I have fond memories of playing and from coaching.

“I’m here to do a different job today with Huddersfield to get the win.”

It wasn’t the return to Salford Watson would have wanted in the end as his third place Giants were well beaten by Salford who closed the gap on Leeds in sixth down to just one point.

The Red Devils led 26-4 as the second half drew to a close but a Brodie Croft yellow card and a subsequent penalty which made it 26-6 at halftime gave Huddersfield some hope.

The Giants did exploit this man advantage with two tries from Sam Hewitt to make it 26-16 but a penalty and a drop goal from Marc Sneyd all but wrapped up the win before another try made it 33-16 as the Giants lost to Watson’s former club with Salford fans chanting “Watson, what’s the score” at the end.

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