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Super League: ‘We want to become like the Wigan of old’ – Ian Watson’s Giant ambitions for Huddersfield | Rugby League News


Huddersfield Giants’ Ian Watson has some big ambitions for his team, which sits third in the Betfred Super League; watch the Giants travel to reigning champions St Helens in a battle of the play-off contenders live on Sky Sports Arena from 7.30pm on Friday (8pm kick-off)

Last Updated: 14/07/22 10:58am

Huddersfield have their sights on upsetting Super League's established order

Huddersfield have their sights on upsetting Super League’s established order

Huddersfield prides itself as the birthplace of rugby league, although you have to go back more than a century to find a time when the town’s team were the leading force in the sport.

Indeed, not since the 1914-15 season when ‘The Prince of the Centres’ Harold Wagstaff and free-scoring three-quarter Albert Rosenfeld inspired the Fartowners to become only the second team to win all four trophies – league championship, county league, Challenge Cup and County Cup – available at the time has that been the case.

The last of seven league title triumphs was in 1962, the most recent of six Challenge Cup wins nine years prior, and the only top-level prize of the summer era so far came in the form of Huddersfield Giants clinching the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013.

St Helens vs Huddersfield Giants

July 15, 2022, 7:30pm

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Nevertheless, a run to this year’s Betfred Challenge Cup final – being edged out 16-14 by Wigan Warriors – and the Giants currently sitting third in the Betfred Super League has fans dreaming good times might be just around the corner, and head coach Ian Watson has lofty ambitions for the club.

“We want to become like the Wigan of old or the new St Helens who are consistently competing for trophies,” Watson said.

“Everything is set up with the club to do that and then that will filter through. Then you start getting the better level of younger kids coming through and then you can sustain what you’re trying to build.

“At the moment, we’re still building. We’re having a great year…but next year we should be better, and we need to be better again then.”

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils.

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils.

Watson has previous for upsetting the established order, having guided Salford Red Devils to a maiden Super League Grand Final appearance in 2019 and then to a first Challenge Cup final appearance for over 50 years in 2020.

He was tempted across the Pennines to West Yorkshire ahead of the 2021 season though, attracted by the resources available to him at the John Smith’s Stadium and impressed by what has been put in place off the field under chairman Ken Davy’s stewardship.

The challenge now is to succeed on the field and while that has proven elusive for many of his predecessors in the past decade – current England Knights coach Paul Anderson and the class of 2013 excepted – it is something Watson, who last week signed a contract extension until the end of 2026, is embracing.

“It’s pleasing for me because what I’ve always wanted to do is build something,” Watson said. “It’s something I’ve been after for a long time.

We want to challenge the dominance of the league. People say Wigan and Saints are always at the top end of the league competing – I don’t like that. I want a new team to come in.

Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson

“We want to challenge the dominance of the league. People say Wigan and Saints are always at the top end of the league competing – I don’t like that. I want a new team to come in, so what Catalans are doing is great and what we’re doing now is great.

“What we did at Salford, we challenged the status quo but we couldn’t sustain that for a long period of time. I want us to make a bit of a legacy going forward, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

A 30-18 victory over the Red Devils at Magic Weekend lifted the Giants above last year’s League Leaders’ Shield winners and Grand Final runners-up Catalans Dragons in the Super League standings, having beaten the French side home and away already this year.

Huddersfield now face a big test of their ambitions when they travel to reigning champions St Helens on Friday, live on Sky Sports, and while Watson acknowledges injuries to his squad could be a factor on how the rest of their season unfolds, he is not lowering his sights for the year.

Huddersfield Giants' Tui Lolohea says Ian Watson gets the best out of him and he gets the best out of his head coach after their victory over Salford Red Devils.

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Huddersfield Giants’ Tui Lolohea says Ian Watson gets the best out of him and he gets the best out of his head coach after their victory over Salford Red Devils.

Huddersfield Giants’ Tui Lolohea says Ian Watson gets the best out of him and he gets the best out of his head coach after their victory over Salford Red Devils.

“Some teams come into a season and are probably happy to compete and stay in Super League,” Watson said. “I don’t want to be at a club like that, I want to be at a club that competes to win Grand Finals and Challenge Cup finals.

“I think that’s what you’re playing the game for, otherwise you’re wasting your time in what you’re doing. For me, the challenge is the biggest thing – you want to be working with a club that wants to win competitions.

“The big one will be the squad. We were down to our last 18 [against Salford] without calling back any of our younger lads we’re trying to develop in the Championship and League One at this moment in time.

“If we can keep our squad healthy, I think we can compete at the back end of the year.”

Huddersfield and St Helens kick off Sky Sports’ live coverage of Round 19 of the Super League regular season at Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday from 7.30pm (8pm kick-off).





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