'What's best for the team': Ian Watson set to drop playmaker as Huddersfield Giants strive for form

Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson is keeping his cards close to his chest after confirming he will tweak his spine for the visit of Leigh Leopards.

In the continued absence of controlling half-backs Theo Fages and Oliver Russell, Watson has tried to fit Jake Connor, Will Pryce and Tui Lolohea into the same team with limited success.

Watson was critical of his creative players in the wake of last week's chastening 28-0 defeat at Hull KR and conceded that playing with three full-backs was not working.

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One of Connor, Pryce or Lolohea will miss out against Leigh but Watson stopped short of confirming that young half-back Kieran Rush would make his Super League debut tomorrow night.

"I have made a decision," he said.

"We've had a good week in terms of having a look at a couple of things. We won't be going with the three this week. You'll see tomorrow how we'll line up.

"We've been running with a couple of things there to make sure it's the right thing for the team. It's got to be what's best for the team.

"Against Catalans they did the job that we asked them to do and stuck to the plan. We fell off it in the Hull game and were way off it in the Hull KR game, doing things that we don't even talk about or practice. That looseness costs you the game, especially when it's throwing it down like it was.

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Ian Watson's side are struggling for form. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)Ian Watson's side are struggling for form. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
Ian Watson's side are struggling for form. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

"We've had honest conversations as a team. The team will be what it'll be when it's named."

Watson has chopped and changed throughout a challenging start for Huddersfield, with Jermaine McGillvary among the players dropped in recent weeks.

The veteran winger missed out on Watson's 21-man squad again this week but the Giants boss insists he still has an important role to play this season.

“He understands why he’s out which is the first and foremost," said Watson.

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"He knows what we've asked of him and what we need him to do for the team which he didn’t do in the Hull game. It's performance-based on the back end of that.

"He's a high-quality player and just needs to fight his way back in. He shouldn't be sat on the sidelines through lack of performance which is the key thing for us.

"The challenge for Jez is to get his head down and work hard, which he's done this week, and come back stronger."

One of the pre-season title favourites, Huddersfield have flattered to deceive in the early months of the campaign.

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Watson is hoping the Giants can peak at the right time after falling away in 2022.

"What we learned last year is that it's not necessarily about how you start the season but how you finish it," said Watson, whose side are four points adrift of sixth-placed Leigh.

"At the same time, you don't want the season to run away from you. You can probably say with 100 per cent certainty that we're not going to win the League Leaders' Shield but that doesn't mean that everything else is out of the question.

"We know what we're missing in personnel and our game plan. We need to rectify that, starting this week."

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