Defence key for Huddersfield Giants’ new skipper Luke Yates

New Huddersfield Giants captain Luke Yates, who led his club to an opening-day victory against Toulouse Olympique on Saturday, has revealed that Ian Watson’s side are aiming to build one of the best defences in Super League in order to reach the play-offs.

Watson has stated that the top six is the minimum target for the Giants in his second season in charge at the club.

Last week his new leadership group, decided with the whole squad, was announced ahead of their opener at Toulouse Olympique, and Yates has become their on-field captain.

The Australian forward replaces Aidan Sezer, who has since departed to Leeds Rhinos, and Adam O’Brien, who jointly held the role last season.

Michael Lawrence remains in his position of club captain, while Chris McQueen and Theo Fages, a fresh recruit from St Helens, have been made vice-captains.

“It’s one of the biggest honours you can get to be voted in by the people you’re playing with week in, week out,” said Yates, who like coach Watson, joined the club from Salford Red Devils ahead of last season, and has also played for Newcastle Knights in the NRL and London Broncos in Super League.

“It gives me a lot of confidence that they’re backing me to do the right thing, and I’m doing my best to do the right thing by them.”

Yates says that Huddersfield’s focus approaching the campaign was on keeping things tighter in defence in order to march up the table, after conceding more than 21 points per match last season on their way to a disappointing ninth-placed finish.

“We want to be a top-four side,” he said.

“There’s been a bit of emphasis on the defensive side of things here at the Giants. We want to be in that top four (or) top two defensive teams.

“I think if we’re there or thereabouts, we’re going to be competing for trophies, which is where we think the Giants should be.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.