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Ian Watson optimistic as he reveals 2023 star signing Jake Connor is flying in pre-season

Jake Connor will be a coach for Siddal as they face Wakefield Trinity in the Challenge Cup

It might only be early in pre-season but Huddersfield Giants boss Ian Watson has given fans reason for excitement as he confirms last year’s star signing Jake Connor is a standout in training so far.

Connor arrived as the headline signing among a whole host of recruits prior to the 2023 campaign, one that had held plenty of promise following the Giants impressive 2022 campaign that saw them place third and reach the Challenge Cup Final.

Not only was he a big name signing but the playmaker was arriving at the John Smiths’ Stadium off the back of an incredible 30-assist season with Hull FC, yet it didn’t click for Connor in his new surroundings.

An injury ruled him out for much of the pre-season and by the time Connor returned to full fitness the Giants had fell foul to a whole host of injuries, something that head coach Ian Watson explained when speaking live to BBC West Yorkshire Sport.

Watson stated: “We lost eight players in them first eight rounds. We’re not a team who can lose eight players in the first eight rounds to be fair, and that obviously massively had an impact.

“Then you’re still waiting for Jake to come back on the back of it as well, and then he’s coming back into a team which is trying to find its feet.”

Whilst it was still a disappointing season for Huddersfield they did kick on nearer the end of the year, mounting somewhat of a play-off charge and that’s something Watson has taken hope from, particularly in accordance to Connor.

“We felt last year at the back end of the year, players were starting to find the feet a little bit more in the system. Jake Connor started to look a little bit more like himself,” he explained.

“He’s probably stood out in pre-season at the moment as well. He’s looking really good. So he’s jumping around full of beans at the moment, which is good to see.”

Despite bemoaning the team’s opening schedule which sees them play seven away games in their opening nine, Watson was positive on the progress made in pre-season with Connor once again getting a nod as one of the standouts.

“The condition that some of the boys are in has given us a real kind of positive kind of outlook.

“Like I say Jake’s now another year in, we knew he was going to struggle last year to get where we wanted to get him but he looks brilliant at the moment.

“He’s probably the lightest he’s been for a long time and he’s moving around the field like that as well, so yeah hopefully all good.”

The Giants kick off their season travelling to the Leigh Sports Village to face the Leopards where they’ll hope to have more success than in 2023 where the game was cut short and then resumed after 48 minutes in controversial fashion due to a power cut.

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