New coach Ian Watson is impressed by the ambition of Super League Huddersfield Giants

A WIDE-RANGING conversation with Huddersfield Giants owner Ken Davy strengthened Ian Watson’s belief that the club has so much potential to succeed and now it is just down to the new head coach to make sure it does.

Highly-rated: The work done by Ian Watson at Salford Red Devils made him an obvious target for rival clubs and it was talking to Huddersfield Giants chairman Ken Davy which persuaded him to move there. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Watson officially started his role on Tuesday after leaving Salford Red Devils last month although work behind the scenes has been ongoing ever since his appointment was confirmed.

As someone who took unfancied Salford to a maiden Grand Final last year and followed up by guiding them to Wembley for the first time in 51 years, the 44 year-old’s stock is clearly high.

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Watson was one of Wayne Bennett’s assistants on last autumn’s Great Britain tour, too, and is regarded as one of the sport’s brightest young coaching talents.

Davy, the benevolent Giants owner who has backed the West Yorkshire club for approaching a quarter of a century, knew all of that.

That is why he stumped up compensation to get Watson down the M62 on a three-year deal and drive his own quest to finally see Huddersfield win one – if not both – of the domestic sport’s two major trophies.

“Speaking to Ken was a big motivating factor in me coming here,” Watson told The Yorkshire Post.

“The passion he spoke with about the club, the things he spoke to me about what he’d done in his life – in building a club and in business – and how he wanted to sustain that.

Impressed: Huddersfield Giants chairman Ken Davy. Picture James Hardisty.

“It was impressive. He told me about how he started and it was a really good conversation. You understood the person because of the detail he went into.

“You can see why he’s proud to do what he does for Huddersfield and how his mentality is to be there for the long haul and sustain what he’s building.

“It’s up to us now to back that up, make sure we get it right and achieve some success for him.”

Huddersfield finished seventh this season, showing flashes of quality under Simon Woolford and then – after the Australian departed in September having been told his contract would not be extended – also under interim head coach Luke Robinson.

Linked: Ian Watson is hoping to bring former Salford player Josh Jones to the club from Hull FC. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Nevertheless, it was too infrequent and Davy demanded more from his investment, an investment which had included this season the capture of their first ‘marquee’ player, Australian scrum-half Aidan Sezer.

Watson accepts there is plenty of “potential” within the club, not least with so many burgeoning young talents having come through their academy.

But he has not been afraid to quickly make his mark, already jettisoning two experienced players – Grand Final winner Jordan Turner and former NRL prop Suaia Matagi who have been offloaded to Castleford Tigers with a year still left on their deals.

Watson said: “They are big decisions and tough decisions as well. But you have to make them in sport. And they’re not always nice ones.

“You have to upset people at certain points though their careers and through the season but it’s all about having the same mentality and where you want to go and get to. You do that by working together and that’s how you achieve things. It’s got to be what’s best for the team. At this moment in time I felt it was best for the team that we needed to go in a different direction to what was previously there before.

“The potential in the group is huge and that’s down to people like Andy Kelly and Kim Williams bringing the youth through to the work that Robbo has done before when he’s developed people coming like Jake Wardle, Darnell McIntosh, the Senior twins and Matty English.

“The players have a part to play, too, by educating each other. It’s been really good so far; I’m really excited to get to Huddersfield.

“It’s been a fast start in terms of trying to sort the roster out -–there’s a lot of work with (managing director) Richard (Thewlis) at the moment – and meeting the staff, discussions with them and the players to get their thoughts and understand their ideas.

“But it’s exciting.”

Watson says a deal to bring on board Hull FC second-row Josh Jones, the Great Britain international who played under him at Salford, is “close” and there will be a few new acquisitions.

He said: “There’s potential in the group. What we need is a higher quality of player and some more experience.

“Although Suaia and Jordan are leaving us, they are quite experienced. We need to bring the right level of player in in terms of that. That’s not just players who will be great in five or six years but people who are going to challenge established players at the club so there’s competition across the board.”

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