HUDDERSFIELD coach Ian Watson has urged his England prop Chris Hill to use an injury lay-off as an opportunity to recharge the batteries.
The 36-year-old looks set to miss the start of his third season in claret and gold after rupturing a pectoral muscle during the final game of the Tonga Test series.
Hill featured in all three matches, one of which was at his home ground the John Smith’s Stadium, after 25 appearances for the Giants this year.
The former Warrington man, contracted to 2025 after signing an extension in May, faces another three months out, with Huddersfield’s opening Super League game at his first club Leigh on Friday, February 16.
“Chris is a big player for us, so it’s a blow,” said Watson, aiming to improve on a ninth-place finish this year.
“He’s a naturally quick healer, but it’s quite a big injury, and while we aren’t ruling out the start of the season, we have to also consider him still being out at that stage.
“We’re trying to look at a positive, and being sidelined will give him a bit of a breather, which is perhaps a blessing in disguise.
“Chris admitted he struggled to back up from the (2022) World Cup last season, and had a bit of burn-out, so a decent rest could benefit him when he does return.”
Meanwhile both Watson and the club are perplexed by a 2024 Super League fixture schedule that brings them seven away trips in the first nine matches.
There’s a run of four in a row, at London, Hull, Leeds and St Helens, from the end of March to the end of April.
And ex-Swinton and Salford coach Watson, talking to BBC Radio Leeds, said: “We’ve looked at the other teams, and none have that. We’re not sure what it’s all about.
“I’m not sure how it impacts the club, but I know it would impact some clubs I’ve been at before, and I don’t know how you run a business off a fixture list like that.
“To only have two home games in nine is really interesting.”