Watson happy with his young players’ progress

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS might have struggled to live up to their reputation as Super League dark horses this season, having failed to qualify for the play-offs.
But amid the disappointment of twelve defeats plus a forfeited fixture against Castleford Tigers going into the Magic Weekend meeting with Wakefield Trinity, Giants coach Ian Watson insists there are positives to take from his first season as coach.
The 44-year-old, who reached both a Grand Final and Challenge Cup Final with Salford Red Devils before moving across the Pennines, says his bid to implement the systems he believes will have Huddersfield climbing the table have been disrupted by Covid and injuries.
“It’s been a bit chaotic,” said Watson, who is delighted that Luke Yates, the Australian backrower he brought with him from Salford, has agreed a contract extension keeping him with the Giants until 2024.
“The Covid situation disrupted quite a lot of what we wanted to do in pre-season in terms of team stuff, and when it disrupted us again during the year, we had to use games to help learn systems, and develop as we went on.
“The only thing you want to stay consistent through all of that is your spine, because they control the team and run it, but that’s the big area in which we’ve had no consistency at all.
“But we’ve identified what was wrong in the group and which areas we need to strengthen.”
Watson has called on a number of younger players, such as Will Pryce, Sam Hewitt, Owen Trout, Oliver Wilson and Oliver Russell.
“The biggest positive has been the amount of game time they have had.
“I’m a big believer that young players need as many as 50 first-team games before they fully understand their roles, and the experience a lot of them have gained this year will really set us up.
“I’ve been absolutely made up with them, they’ve done really well to compete the way they have against more experience teams.
“It puts us in a really good position and it’s something to be excited about going forward.”

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