An exciting Huddersfield Giants side get their season started tomorrow night against Warrington Wolves.
They missed out in week one because their Round One opponents were of course St Helens who were away in Australia.
On missing Round One, Ian Watson said:
“It was weird, you’re really excited for the games coming up but you’re not part of them. You could probably sit back and enjoy the rugby for the first time in a while. There was a few games that could have gone either way which shows the strength of the competition.
“The Hull Castleford one I was probably expecting Castleford to come away with that one, obviously they got off to a terrible start but they came back into it at the end. Hull KR are always difficult at home. The way Warrington blew Leeds away was probably a little bit of a surprise that early in the campaign.”
Speaking of Warrington, Watson gave his verdict on the Wolves:
“I thought they were good, the way they started the game they played pretty direct and used the big fellas. That’s what they’ve brought them in for and I thought George Williams was dangerous on the back of that and he kicked really well.
“I thought they defended well as a unit and a team, big improvements but you expected them to be better. Daryl has got a proven track record of improving things as he goes forward. Probably what helped him as well was that I think he had a lot available in pre-season so he could get them processes into his players.
“I’ve got full confidence in our pack that we can go against any pack and match them. We’ve got to be at our best to do that, I think the players that came in last week like Paul Vaughan show you what he can do. It’s for us to try and counter attack that and cause our own problems rather than worry about them.”
The Giants only lost twice at home in 2022 and for Watson it is key for the Giants to be even better:
“It’s great playing in front of your home crowd and getting the supporters behind you, we saw what that can do last year. I think we lost one game at home in the league and then we lost in the playoffs, so what we need to do is rectify that and try go unbeaten and make it a real fortress.
“Nothing is ever won or done on paper, it’s the actions and choices as players and coaches. What you’ve got to do is work hard and do the tough stuff and be willing to do that. It’s alright people saying we’ve got a good squad but we need to prove that. We’ve done nothing yet, last year has been and gone.”
Key to that will be the Giants’ new depth: “I think we’ve got real good strength and depth in there and we’ve got some real winners there. We’ve got Kevin Naiqama who’s won Super League, Jake Bibby who has been to Grand Finals, Esan Marsters who was a New Zealand international.
“You go a little bit further and you’ve got Leroy (Cudjoe) and Jez (McGillvary) who are all internationals. Then people like Innes Senior who are making their way in the game, Ash Golding too.
“There’s real good strength in there and it will be interesting to see, it normally takes time to build combinations but the guys have looked real good in training so let’s see under match conditions.”
However, it will be tough for the Giants with Watson making the big claim that he believes this year is set to be one of the most competitive seasons in Super League history: “I think what they’ve been trying to get for a few years now in terms of the salary cap is balancing out. It’s taken a fair while but it’s balancing out.
“You look at all the squads and I know there’s been a lot said about our squad, but you go through the league. You can look at Castleford who we played in pre-season and the strength and depth they’ve got as a team. St Helens haven’t got any weaker, they’ve still got that continuity that makes a big big difference. Wigan feel they’ve strengthened with the centres they’ve brought in. Salford have probably got the best squad they’ve ever had.
“Every team will be thinking that they go can go in and compete and that’s what you want. You want that positivity around the sport, teams feel like they can go up against St Helens and beat them and win something at the end of the year.”
So that Giants squad depth will be key and Watson revealed the young players who have impressed him in pre-season:
“I’ve got big hopes for Harry (Rushton), he’s going to be a great player. We’ve seen some qualities from Sam Halsall as well, he’s going to be a quality player.
“Then we’ve got some of our own guys, some guys that have gone out on loan to Bradford in Fenton Rogers and George Roby. They’ve done real well.
“One guy who has really stood out in pre-season and who seems to have jumped on the back of his World Cup with Jamaica is Kieran Rush. He’s been phenomenal in the pre-season in terms of everything he’s done. The way he’s gone about his business, the way he’s trained, he’s looking really really good but he’s in a tough situation that there’s a lot of quality in front of him at the moment.”
He then confirmed that the Giants were looking for a loan move for him: “Yeah we’re having a look at that now. We wanted to make sure we kept him until the start of the season just to make sure all our spine got through to the start and so he could give us some real competition in training.
“We’ve wanted some really good run outs in training because we’ve not had them warm up games, he’s been controlling the opposition against our starting team and he’s been doing it really well. He’s been opening us up and causing us a fair bit of problems, what he’s done in pre-season will help us going forward into the Super League season.”
This came as Watson said that the Giants have a young spine ready to take over in the future:
“What we wanted to do was, and we’ve spoken about it for a long time, is build a legacy as a club. The way you do that is have a little bit of a succession plan and a bit of conveyor belt going on. If one guy comes out through injury or moving on then the next guy jumps up and comes in, the more they’re embedded into our organisation then the better it’ll be for us. It was one of the big reasons why we ran a lot of the younger players against Castleford because that’s the level they’re going to be playing against.”