2023 has all the making of a massive season in the history of the Huddersfield Giants.
A decade on from the last time they won the League Leaders’ Shield, 2023 is their best chance at repeating that feat with some star signings adding quality to a superb squad.
Grand Final glory isn’t off the cards either but how will the Giants line up under Ian Watson next year?
Fullback: Tui Lolohea
After having arguably his best season in Super League, Lolohea is still regarded as Huddersfield’s first choice fullback despite the arrival of Jake Connor according to Ian Watson. He was instrumental for the Giants at full back last season registering 29 assists and forcing more goal line drop outs than anyone else. He also beats the likes of Newcastle Knights bound Will Pryce and Ash Golding to the role.
Wingers: Jermain McGillvary and Jake Bibby
A stalwart of this Giants squad, McGillvary will be entering his 13th season with the club as he enters the final year of his contract. As an experience outside back he will be relishing the prospect of playing with a full back like Connor and should score tries galore. He will be joined by Jake Bibby who should get the nod just ahead of Innes Senior after receiving the number five shirt. Bibby is one of four new faces in the Huddersfield backs for 2023 after the completed a move from Wigan Warriors. Bibby spent much of 2022 in the centres for the Warriors but is just as good on the wing. Being part of the Wigan team which beat the Giants in the Challenge Cup final, Bibby will be hoping to bring silverware to his new club.
Centres: Esan Marters and Kevin Naiqama
Two more big name signings for the Giants in 2023. Having spent three very successful years in Super League with St Helens in which he won a Challenge Cup and three consecutive Grand Finals, Naiqama returns to the competition after a spell in the NRL with Sydney Roosters. A strong ball carrier who knows where they try line, as his 2021 Grand Final performance highlighted. Esan Marsters is another new face to the club for 2023 as he looks to get his career back on track following a difficult couple of years in the NRL. Disappointing spells with the North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans will mean Marsters will be keen to prove a point in Super League and could prove to be a handful for all defences he comes up against.
Halfbacks: Jake Connor and Theo Fages
The Giants’ newest recruit will bring a touch of class to an already strong side. On his day Connor is one of the most electric players in Super League and under the tutelage of Ian Watson will look to find the consistency to dominate Super League. He could take the Giants’ attacking possession and turn it into league best form. He will be joined by Theo Fages. 2022 wasn’t the best season for Fages in his first year as a Giant with his season hampered by injuries and concussions. With a full preseason and a new halves partner look for the scrum half to get back to the form which saw him win multiple titles with St Helens.
Props: Chris Hill and Oliver Wilson
A Super League legend who has been revitalised since joining the Giants last season. One of the most consistent props the competition has seen, Hill brought leadership to this Huddersfield side and after being on the wrong side of Grand Finals he will be looking to correct that in 2023 with the Giants. An exciting young prop who has just signed a four year deal with the club will join him in the front row. Having already played in some big games such as the Challenge Cup final and with Chris Hill as a mentor, Wilson could become one of the best props in Super League in years to come.
Hooker: Nathan Peats
With Danny Levi returning to Australia on compassionate grounds, Huddersfield are now shy of a hooker who can guide them around the park. Nathan Peats could be the man for the job, after relegation with Toulouse in 2022 a return to Super League would make sense for the 32-year-old. A return to the Giants doesn’t seem to be out of the question.
Second-Rowers: Josh Jones and Chris McQueen
Having made over 230 Super League Appearances across four separate clubs, Jones is as reliable as they come in the back row. A solid player who gets through a lot of tough work, he will need to be strong in defence to help his new centre partner Marsters adapt to Super League. Alongside him will be Huddersfield’s top try scorer in 2022. McQueen had an excellent season rewarded with an inclusion in the Dream Team as he cemented himself as one of the competitions elite back rowers. A forward with a key eye for the try line, McQueen looks to be another player who will be a beneficiary of Connor’s arrival.
Loose-Forward: Luke Yates
One of the best loose forwards in the competition with his relentless work rate which makes him a tackling monster. An underrated ball playing forward, Yates will be the link man for the Giants as first receiver to get the talented backs involved.
Substitutes: Ash Golding, Harvey Livett, Matty English and Joe Greenwood
Recently signed from Salford Red Devils, Harvey Livett looks like a solid addition to the Giants’ pack. After a disappointing season in 2022 which ended in injury, he will be looking to get a good start for his new club. His versatility may secure a spot on the bench alongside Matty English. Still only 24, English has been a main stay in this Giants side since 2019 and is a big body to bring off the bench against tired middles. English recently represented England Knights and could be a player we see in a Shaun Wane squad in the future. Another prop who has impressed at the Giants recently is Joe Greenwood. Now an experienced forward in Super League, Greenwood plays his role very well for Huddersfield and will continue to do so in 2023. A no nonsense forward who has been always reliable for Ian Watson. Lastly, Ash Golding will complete the bench as a reliable back up hooker who can fill in elsewhere is required.