Ian Watson lays down challenge to Huddersfield Giants ahead of Challenge Cup dress rehearsal

Ian Watson has warned Huddersfield Giants to maintain a high level of intensity as they build towards the Challenge Cup final.

Huddersfield booked their place in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium showpiece with a commanding victory over Hull KR last weekend.

The Giants will play two Super League fixtures before their trip to the capital at the end of May, hosting cup final opponents Wigan Warriors tonight before taking on Toulouse Olympique at the John Smith's Stadium next Friday.

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Watson is determined to ensure there are no thoughts of self-preservation in the Huddersfield camp.

Huddersfield celebrate their win over Hull KR. (Picture: SWPix.com)Huddersfield celebrate their win over Hull KR. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Huddersfield celebrate their win over Hull KR. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"The big one is to make sure we go hard into these two games," said Watson.

"If you go into a game soft, you're going to end up getting hurt and then you'll end up missing out on your main dream.

"There's no point focusing two weeks down the track. The boys have done the job and have got the reward where we're in a cup final, but there are two big games before then.

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"We need to make sure we do our best in the games against Wigan and Toulouse, and play to our maximum so we're not risking getting hurt or for something to come out of the blue and shock us before then."

Jermaine McGillvary played a starring role at Elland Road. (Picture: SWPix.com)Jermaine McGillvary played a starring role at Elland Road. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Jermaine McGillvary played a starring role at Elland Road. (Picture: SWPix.com)

In a twist of fate, Huddersfield and Wigan meet with the dust still settling on their semi-final wins at Elland Road.

It is being viewed as a dress rehearsal for the final but both teams will have a different look after the two coaches opted to rest key men, with the Warriors set to travel without Jai Field, Liam Marshall and John Bateman among others.

Watson has challenged his players to put the cup to the back of their minds and claim a win that would consolidate a top-six place in Super League.

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"I think everyone will look at it like that [a dress rehearsal]," said Watson.

Chris Hill will not feature this week. (Picture: SWPix.com)Chris Hill will not feature this week. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Chris Hill will not feature this week. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"You can see by the nature of both squads that the game will be different and will probably have no bearing whatsoever on the final.

"This is a one-off game for us in the league that we just need to focus on; this has got nothing to do with the Challenge Cup final.

"We've done our job in the cup and we need to get back on it in the league to make sure we back up a good win over Wakefield and put ourselves in a real good position so we can challenge for the play-offs on the back of the final.

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"It's not just good enough for us to be in a Challenge Cup final; we need to make sure we're in the play-offs come the end of the year and well-positioned to have a shot at that as well."

Huddersfield celebrate Innes Senior's try. (Picture: SWPix.com)Huddersfield celebrate Innes Senior's try. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Huddersfield celebrate Innes Senior's try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Jermaine McGillvary, Chris Hill, Luke Yates and Leroy Cudjoe have all been given a breather by Watson, presenting opportunities to some of Huddersfield's fringe players.

Jake Wardle is one man who will get a chance to impress in the round 12 clash with Wigan.

"This is a big game for Jake," said Watson.

"He came back in against Warrington and I thought he was outstanding against Wakefield.

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"This is just about getting some games under his belt. He's had a really disruptive pre-season and season. He needs to get himself back up and running.

"Leroy - along with Yatesy and Joe Greenwood - has played more or less every game so far this year so he deserves a break this week.

"We've got somebody of the quality of Jake to come in and cause Wigan problems."

Chris McQueen is another player who will miss out tonight after picking up an abductor injury at Elland Road.

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But Watson is confident the influential Australian forward will be fit and firing in time for the date with Wigan in London on May 28.

"We're working towards the Challenge Cup final for 'Crispy'," said Watson.

"Everybody who has seen him thinks he should be good for it. It'll just depend what his pain threshold is like and how he reacts to the treatment.

"They said we could have pushed him for the Toulouse game but with somebody like Crispy who has played in Grand Finals and State of Origin games, the extra week will do him more good than harm.

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"He's a big, big player but it's not just what he brings on the field, it's how he's developed into a real genuine leader over the last 12 months.

"He's somebody all the players respect massively so when he talks everyone listens.

"When you've got players who have played State of Origin and Grand Finals in the NRL, you'd be a fool not to listen to him.

"It'd be a big boost to get him out there on cup final day."

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