Huddersfield Giants Women aiming to take next step after transformative off-season

BETHAN OATES is setting Huddersfield’s sights on semi-finals as they aim to translate improvements off the field into progress on it.

The Giants’ team was brought in-house by the club at the end of last year, having previously been run by its charitable arm.

This move has brought investment in both facilities and staff which it is hoped will help bring Huddersfield closer to leading sides in the women’s game.

A new 4G pitch has been installed at their Laund Hill base, where they train and play many of their fixtures, while several full-time staff who are dedicated to the women’s team have been appointed.

Head coach Lori Halloran has signed a contract, as have star players Oates and Amelia Brown – the first in Huddersfield’s history.

“I was absolutely honoured when I got told I’d be offered a contract,” said skipper Oates, who has been part of the Giants’ team since it was formed in 2017.

“It wasn’t something I was expecting. To be in that position to accept it, it’s really exciting.

“For me, ever since Huddersfield joined the Women’s Super League, I’ve been a professional since day one. The only difference is I’m getting a reward for it now.

“I want to set that professionalism for the whole team as captain. We have really high standards.”

Huddersfield have recruited strongly for this season, with new arrivals including the ex-Leeds trio of Ellie Oldroyd, Sam Hulme and Paige Webster, plus Grace Ramsden and Kacy Haley from Warrington.

Oates says the steps taken off the field have helped the Giants to recruit their best-ever squad – and hopes it will prevent the big clubs poaching their top talent in future.

“We’ve been able to bring the players in – it’s attracted players to come to us, just by being taken over by the club,” she said.

“It shows the sustainability within the club. It’s really helped us this season.

“In women’s sport, people will come and go, because you can go wherever you want. The contracts will prevent that from happening.

“Hopefully then Huddersfield this season can go on to real good things, and having the same team going into the 2025 season will only benefit us as a team to compete in the league.”

They have started this season well, comfortably beating Hull KR and Leigh in their opening two Challenge Cup group games to set up a clash at Leeds this Sunday which will determine the Group D winners.

With the losers likely to have to travel to holders St Helens in the quarters – should they win their own decisive Group C tie against Warrington the same day – it’s a big game even though both have already qualified for the last eight.

“We want to make the semis, if not the final, of the Challenge Cup,” stated Oates.

“We want to be competing against the top three and potentially making the top four by the end of the (Super League) season. There are high expectations.

“We’ve been here a couple of years now, we’ve been on a path to develop and this season we need to show that we are where we should be.”

Like in Groups C and D, the top two teams in Group A and B have already been decided, with a home quarter-final all there is left to play for.

York host Featherstone on Saturday in Group A, with Cardiff travelling to Wigan the following day.

In both cases, those ties will be played again in the quarter-finals, at the homes of the respective winners.