Garry Schofield – Pulling no Punches

A disgraceful exhibition

GARRY SCHOFIELD slams Huddersfield Giants and their coach Ian Watson

ON Friday night I saw the worst performance I’ve seen from any side in Super League since the competition was launched in 1996.
Huddersfield really were that bad!
Leeds got 54 points, but it wasn’t really a good Leeds performance.
For a Leeds fan, it was only papering the cracks that we’ve seen earlier this season.
But from Huddersfield it was pathetic, gutless and absolutely disgraceful.
They had no enthusiasm and no desire. My grandson plays at under-7s and he would have shown more purpose than those Huddersfield players.
It was gutless. There was nothing there whatsoever.
They didn’t want to run with the ball or tackle with any purpose.
I was Huddersfield’s coach in 1998. We didn’t have big-name players and it was a poor side, but even we would have beaten the Huddersfield side from Friday night.
Ken Davy has gone on the record as saying before the season started that this is the best Huddersfield squad he has had in the Super League era.
It’s now obvious that the players don’t want to play for Ian Watson. He claims that they over-achieved last year by reaching the Challenge Cup Final. But they didn’t. They had a quality squad.
What’s clear to me is that Ian Watson (above) doesn’t know his best team, he doesn’t know the best positions and he doesn’t know his game plan.
Jake Connor played in the reserve team on Friday and clearly there has been a fall out with him.
This coming weekend, Huddersfield play Wigan and I reckon it will be a similar scoreline. And I think the decision to sack Ian Watson will be made after that.
Watson says he could get this team to win the Grand Final, but even Houdini couldn’t do that with this team.
The players don’t want to play for him, he has lost the dressing room.
Why is Adam O’Brien on loan at Halifax? Why doesn’t he get a run for the Giants?
Where can you see Huddersfield winning another game. It’s giving Wakefield and Castleford the luxury of knowing that they can beat Huddersfield.
Ken Davy and Richard Thewlis need to have a meeting with the leading players to find out what’s going on.
I feel sorry for Ken. We know what he feels about Rugby League and the Giants. He doesn’t deserve a performance like that.
Against Leeds, they didn’t perform like professional players.

Hull firing again
I was delighted to see Hull at last fulfil their potential in their 34-6 win over St Helens on Thursday night.
It was the first time they have beaten St Helens in six years and they did it emphatically, with their defence being stronger than I’ve seen it for a long time.
After Hull’s performance against St Helens in the Challenge Cup, everyone associated with the club was massively disappointed.
They had been the better team in the first ten minutes of the first half of that game, but we all know what happened with Josh Griffin and that had allowed Saints to run away with it.
I suspect that a lot of Hull supporters thought something similar would happen five days later, which perhaps explains why the crowd was slightly below 10,000.
But those Hull fans who weren’t there missed a treat and a performance full of character and team spirit.
Clearly the club has been evolving this season into a competitive outfit, although it has taken longer than Tony Smith ideally would have wanted and they went through a nightmare earlier in the season.
I was there at the derby when Hull KR won 40-0 and that was an awful low point in the season.
Fortunately, however, Adam Pearson didn’t panic when Hull lost seven straight games.
The situation is simple; Tony Smith is there for the long haul.
After the Challenge Cup game, Smith had to make several changes, most of them forced. But it worked a treat.
The players now realise they are playing for their futures. If they want to be part of the journey under Tony Smith, they have to play consistently, otherwise they will get dropped.
These players are realising something is developing and they want to be part of this journey.
For example, Andre Savelio is playing back at his best and so are some more Hull players who are doing the same thing. They know they need to play well and their performance against St Helens revealed it.
Having said that, they were helped by St Helens’ tactics.
I couldn’t understand why Paul Wellens selected James Roby on the bench; he is not an impact player and they missed his leadership in the first half. And that mistake was compounded by leaving Joey Lussick as 18th man and selecting Morgan Knowles as hooker.
Darnell McIntosh had his best game for Hull, scoring a try and creating one for Jake Trueman. McIntosh exemplifies the fact that the players are showing more urgency. If there are any 50/50 balls, they are contesting and winning them. Their attitude has totally changed from earlier in the season.
Jake Trueman has found his form. It was always going to take time but he combined beautifully with Jake Clifford.
The balance is good, they are sharing the workload and the kicking game; the combination is working well.
They may still be four points outside the top six, but they are a clear threat now and they are knocking on the door. You cannot write the black and whites off.
The next two games for Hull are Catalans at home and then the Hull derby.
They have to get the Catalans out of the way and then it’s revenge time against the Robins for that humiliating defeat. What a game that will be!
This was Hull’s best performance under Tony Smith and there is more to come from this team, there is no doubt about it.
The Hull fans will be looking forward to the end of the season.

Lachlan Coote
I was sorry to see the announcement that Lachlan Coote has retired.
He has been a great servant over here. He was not an overseas player who just came here for a payday.
He was brilliant for Saints and excellent for Hull KR and an absolute credit for Rugby League.
I will wish him all the best in his retirement.
He can hold his head high and he goes with my best wishes and I’m sure all the St Helens and Hull KR fans will feel the same way.

Slater killing it
The second of this season’s Origin game was sheer quality, although most of it came from Queensland in their 32-6 victory.
One thing is for sure; with the third game coming up, Brad Fittler is under pressure to keep his job. Queensland will want a three-game whitewash.
But what a great job Billy Slater has done for the Maroons!
Queensland are simply too good for the Blues.
And we saw how much it means when the players squared off at the end.

Riley Dean on the outer
Warrington lost at Castleford on Friday night with Peter Mata’utia and Stefan Ratchford paired together at halfback, with both George Williams and Josh Drinkwater out injured.
It was a combination that didn’t produce the goods.
So why is their young halfback Riley Dean on loan at Castleford?
We see this so often. After two or three games, a young British halfback is thrown on the scrapheap.
Warrington were found out in the Challenge Cup against Wigan by playing Mata’utia at stand-off; there was no one to take the pressure off George Williams.
Daryl Powell wasn’t prepared to take the gamble of recalling Riley Dean, but playing Mata’utia there ensured that they wouldn’t win.

This article is Garry Schofield’s ‘Pulling no Punches’ column from this week’s issue of League Express. To subscribe, go to