'We've got to move on': Huddersfield Giants make Ricky Leutele decision as Ian Watson targets replacement

Ian Watson has revealed Huddersfield Giants have started searching for a replacement for Ricky Leutele after accepting defeat in their attempt to retain the off-contract centre.

Leutele was offered fresh terms several months ago but has yet to inform the club of his intentions.

With the recruitment market in full swing, Huddersfield are keen to ensure they find a suitable replacement for the influential Leutele.

"We've got to a point where we've got to move on," said Watson, who has insisted new signing Kevin Naiqama was not brought in to replace Leutele.

Ricky Leutele celebrates his try in the Challenge Cup final. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"Ricky hasn't given us any indication. It's up to Ricky to deliver that message to us at some point.

"We're looking at other targets now. We've spoken to his agent a couple of times and he keeps telling us he's going to go somewhere else. That's his prerogative but at this moment in time, Ricky still hasn't told us.

"We can't just keep waiting. We want to make sure we're a top club."

Leutele scored nine tries in 14 Super League outings for the Giants before suffering a knee injury in late June.

Ricky Leutele is helped from the field at Craven Park. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The 32-year-old is on course to return in time for the play-offs in a major boost to Huddersfield's title hopes.

"He's looking really good," added Watson, who expects Tui Lolohea and Chris Hill to return in the coming weeks.

"He's not running yet but he is starting to tick boxes and move along. Every time I speak to him, he's in good form and looks happy knowing he's going to be coming back before the end of the season.

"At this moment in time, we're treating him as a Huddersfield player.

"Fingers crossed he'll be back before the end of the regular season."

Such is the extent of Huddersfield's injury situation, Watson could only name a 19-man squad for tomorrow's clash with Warrington Wolves.

The game is the Giants' first on home soil since the win over Leeds Rhinos on June 10 and one of five in the final seven rounds.

Huddersfield remain in the top four despite losing three of their last four games, leaving Watson excited about the run-in.

"I think we've set ourselves up in a really good position with the amount of away games we've played," he said.

"We've got seven games left now and five are at home. We're in a really good position. What the boys have done over the season has set us up really well.

"We need to take advantage of that position by nailing our home games."

The Giants have lost only once at the John Smith's Stadium this year - against St Helens on Easter Monday.

Watson believes Huddersfield need to maintain that record to have any chance of finishing in the top two, which would give the club a home semi-final for a place in the Grand Final.

"I reckon we'll need to win all five of our home games, for sure," said Watson, whose team are five points behind second-placed Wigan Warriors.

"It'd be awesome to win the full seven but injuries and suspensions play a little bit of a part in it.

"We're really happy with our squad for tomorrow and confident it can get the result. We'll attack this game first and take each game as it comes.

"If you win five out of those seven, you're probably sitting in the top three at least."