Huddersfield Giants coach Ian Watson provides positive Jake Connor update as full-back closes in on return

Huddersfield Giants boss Ian Watson hopes to be able to call upon star signing Jake Connor by mid-March.

The full-back will sit out the early weeks of Huddersfield’s season with a knee injury sustained towards the end of his time at Hull FC.

After reaching a major milestone in his recovery, Connor is on course to make his second Giants debut next month against either Castleford Tigers or Wigan Warriors.

"He's not far away," said Watson.

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"He's just been passed over from the medical team to the S&C (strength and conditioning). He's going to come in for a fair bit of running over the next couple of weeks.

"He's been doing a fair chunk of it with the physio team but they feel they've got him to the point where he needs to drop back into more physically demanding training.

"The S&C will take Jake to task now and he'll start dropping into rugby bits as well. He's just started doing that this last week.

"He's in really good condition in terms of weight and physicality; he just needs to get that mileage under his belt now to be able to endure a tough season.

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Jake Connor will miss the start of Huddersfield Giants' season. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Connor will miss the start of Huddersfield Giants' season. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Jake Connor will miss the start of Huddersfield Giants' season. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

"I can imagine he'll be ready in and around round four or five."

Aside from Connor, Watson has a clean bill of health for Friday's opening game against Warrington Wolves at the John Smith’s Stadium.

With Tui Lolohea set to stay at full-back, Watson has had to pick two from Theo Fages, Olly Russell and Will Pryce for the half-back spots.

"We've got good strength in depth and quality in the spine now," said Watson.

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"Although we've got some youthfulness in there, they're quite experienced as well.

"I've made a decision on who will play in the halves and will disclose that to the team tomorrow.

"It's good that we've got everybody available for the start of the season apart from Jake, although we knew that was going to be the case anyway.

"It's making sure we've got the right balance for the team. We'll only know after the Warrington game whether we were right to select that team."

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New recruit Harry Rushton – an off-season arrival from Canberra Raiders – missed out on Watson's first 21-man squad of the year.

Watson has confirmed that it was purely a selection decision, although the young forward is very much part of his plans for the early part of the season and beyond.

"He's done really good in pre-season and he's close," said Watson.

"I spoke to him the other day about how close he is at this moment in time.

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"There are a few who probably have more brownie points based on reputation and what they did last year.

"He's pushing them close. He's competing really hard with Joe Greenwood, Luke Yates, Matty English, Owen Trout – I just thought for this game it was one he just missed out on."

Watson is set to field several debutants against Warrington, including Esan Marsters, Kevin Naiqama and Jake Bibby in a new-look backline.

"We've got some genuine winners in there," said Watson.

"It's going to be exciting to see. I'm hoping we come out firing and click straight away."

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