Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants: Coach Watson eager to tackle Warriors despite ‘shock’ over ban

HUDDERSFIELD Giants’ head coach Ian Watson is looking forward to tonight’s challenge at Wigan Warriors even if he must do so without Danny Levi after what he described as a “shocking” disciplinary decision.

Huddersfield Giants' Danny Levi is suspended for the Super League trip to Wigan Warriors. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Huddersfield Giants' Danny Levi is suspended for the Super League trip to Wigan Warriors. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Both clubs have started the season with 100 per cent winning records so plenty is at stake at the DW Stadium.

However, Huddersfield - who have sold full-back Olly Ashall-Bott to Toulouse Olympique for a five-figure fee - go into the contest without two of their big 2022 signings: ex-New Zealand hooker Levi and former St Helens scrum-half Theo Fages.

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Both have received bans and Watson is particularly perturbed by a two-game suspension for Levi after the ex-Newcastle Knights rake was cited by the match review panel for “pulling at an injured player”.

Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Footage shows the 26-year-old only lightly touching Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis in last week’s game but the RFL is doing its utmost to cut out any dangerous play.

“I thought it [two games] was shocking,” said Watson.

“I totally get in and around the rules and understand do not touch them while they are on the floor. Danny’s probably paying a heavy price for that at this moment in time. But I felt it could have been done with a warning.

“We explained that rule was new to Danny. I saw it in the game when it happened and when I came home I cut the clip up to be able to show Danny on Monday and just say ‘Listen, over here you can’t do that. You can’t touch a player when he’s down whether you think he’s feigning injury or not. You just have to take it that he’s injured’.

Huddersfield Giants' scrum-half Thoe Fage is suspended for the Super League trip to Wigan Warriors. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“The fact he has got two games on the back of it is not good. I’m not happy with it.

“Warn him or give a one-game ban and a warning but the grading was way too high.

“We challenged it and didn’t get anything out of it. As long as they are consistent all the way through the year now and anyone who touches anybody like that gets a minimum of two games because it was the lightest of touches from Danny. There was no malice, no intent, nothing.”

Fortunately, Watson has a more-than-capable replacement in Adam O’Brien who is likely to start at hooker while Will Pryce is set to come in at full-back with Tui Lolohea switching to the halves to replace Fages.

Ash Golding could also come into contention as Giants look to make it three wins from three.

Wigan have started impressively under new coach Matty Peet. Watson said: “They have gone back a couple of years in the way their mentality is - real physical defensively.

“And their attack is moving the ball a fair bit, too, trying to play more rugby. You can see the impact Matty has had on the group defensively and, likewise, [assistant] Lee Briers in attack.

“It will be a really good challenge but one we’re interested to take on.”

Meanwhile, on Ashall-Bott’s departure, Giants managing director Richard Thewlis said: “When Olly’s representative made us aware of the opportunity Toulouse presented to him, it would have been grossly unfair to stand in his way.

“He has the full-back spot guaranteed and financial security beyond where any club in the UK would be able to go. We have good depth at full-back, wish Olly nothing but the best and have retained an option for him to return should things not work out in France.”