Super League coach confirms that star player is set to be dropped

After Huddersfield Giants’ defeat to St Helens, there was talk that Ian Watson would drop one of his biggest stars in either Tui Lolohea or Jake Connor.

This came as he confirmed Oliver Russell’s return and that Theo Fages would start alongside him.

Today, he confirmed that one of the two would be dropped and had this to say on the matter:

“It’s probably been no secret what I think of Oliver Russell and how much he helped us last year and controlled the team last year alongside Theo. And at times he had to do that without Theo so he really matured.

“The big thing for us now is obviously this will be Oli’s first game back in. Oli just needs to come in. Obviously Theo’s obviously started to find his feet. He’s playing pretty well. We just need to build on the back of that and start to get some consistency within our spine now.”

In terms of chopping and changing his team, which is something Watson has done plenty of in 2023, he said:

“Yeah, it’s very difficult because especially when you have a squad as well, you’ve got players who want to play and if somebody doesn’t play well at weekend, they’re not backwards these days telling you that they think they could do a job and they think they deserve a crack in the team as well.

“That’s why it’s massive for you as an individual player, for you to perform and you do your job and then you don’t come out of the team and then you don’t give anybody, you don’t give me a choice to make and you don’t give anybody who’s not inside that 17 a reason to ask questions of why you’re not in there as well.

“So it’s an all-round game of just doing your job basically and doing it to the best of your ability. There’s some reasons why other players will be a little bit behind where they were.”

He also spoke about how Jake Connor is still settling in after his injury:

“Like we’ve made no secret about Jake Connor coming in and trying to find his feet throughout the season. And he’s done really well where he is at the moment in terms of his knee and everything else. But at the same time he’s still not where you would want him to be.

“In terms of fitness-wise, him running the K’s and his knees not where he would want it to be ideally to be performing at the top level but saying that he’s actually done some really really good things for us which stands us in good stead for going forward.

“I said it right at the beginning when we signed Jake, Jake wasn’t just for this shirt, Jake was kind of for the longer term picture as well so yeah you’ve got to balance out everything but when you’ve got a squad, people are eager to play. The players that are playing should put their hand up and make sure that they perform so they don’t come out of the team. Because that’s when the coach then has choices to make when people don’t perform.”