Ian Watson is excited by what he sees as Super League top-four potential at Huddersfield Giants after agreeing to become the club’s new head coach.
Watson confirmed the appointment while appearing on Sky Sports as guest pundit for Thursday’s Super League semi-final clash between Wigan Warriors and Hull FC, and has signed a three-year deal with the Giants, who ended the 2020 regular season seventh on the percentage-adjusted table.
The 44-year-old resigned from his post with Salford Red Devils 10 days ago having led them to a maiden Super League Grand Final appearance last year and a first Challenge Cup final appearance for 51 years in 2020, and is now looking forward to the next chapter of his career.
“I was attracted to the potential of the club,” Watson said. “Everything about it screams top four; the stadium, the youth academy with the kids that can be brought through and the owner of the club who has proven over time that he wants to win and he’s backed the club in his pursuit of success.
“My short-term aims are to ensure the club moves to the right side of the table… and the longer-term aims for the club have to be challenging the top teams in Super League.
“The footing the club has with the youth coming through, the location of the club and the owner means that it’s set up to do that.”
Watson had been in demand even before leaving the Red Devils after overseeing their rise from Super League strugglers to contending for major honours, turning down the chance to take over at Hull FC last month.
Ian Watson at Salford
Huddersfield chairman Ken Davy is delighted to have been able to tempt the former Wales international to the John Smith’s Stadium though, where the head coach position has been vacant since Simon Woolford decided to return to Australia early.
“It’s a long time since I have felt so excited about a Huddersfield Giants announcement and I am absolutely delighted that Ian Watson has chosen the Giants to be his club for the foreseeable future,” Davy said.
“We have all seen the way that he has built his previous team into genuine trophy contenders, with two major finals appearances in the last year.
“For Ian to choose the Giants to be his next club speaks volumes for where we are at the moment and his belief in what we can achieve together.
It is a long time since I have felt so excited about a Huddersfield Giants announcement and I am absolutely delighted that Ian Watson has chosen the Giants to be his club for the foreseeable future.
Ken Davy on Ian Watson
“I have been hugely impressed by his professionalism and integrity throughout our discussions and look forward to him bringing his ideas and work ethic to our club for the betterment of all.”
Watson has already spoken to Luke Robinson, who has been serving as acting head coach since Woolford’s departure, and Giants chief executive Richard Thewlis about recruitment and plans for next season.
He will also be joined at Huddersfield by conditioner Greg Brown and rehabilitation conditioner Carl Foulstone, who have been key members of his staff during his time in charge at Salford.
“My approach is about the collective,” Watson said. “Everything is about the team, the people you work with and having good relationships.
“No-one achieves anything on their own and you’ve got to be a collective unit and that’s what we want to make the process going forward.
“There’s definitely areas for improvement, and there’s definitely good players there also. Coming in at the back end of the season, a lot of players have already been signed up at other clubs so what we need to do is identify what we need going forward.”
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