Opposition Overview: Huddersfield Giants

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Huddersfield Giants - Matty English

Richard Agar’s Rhinos are back on the road again this week to take on Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium this Sunday, kick off 3pm.

Leeds Rhinos Season and Flexi members have exclusive access to watch the match free of charge through the Our League. CLICK HERE for details.


2021 so far..

Huddersfield Giants head into Sunday’s game looking for their first win of the 2021 Super League season.

It is the first time since 2019 that the Giants have lost their opening four fixtures of a season and are in need of points on Sunday to make sure the clubs above them don’t build a significant points gap in the table.

Huddersfield were tipped to have a positive season after the impressive form of players like Aidan Sezer, Adam O’Brien and Jermaine McGillvary in 2020 along with their recruitment in a range of positions; England Knights international Joe Greenwood, NRL Grand Final winner Ricky Leutele and former St Helens, Salford and Hull FC second rower Josh Jones all signing for the club ahead of the current season. It has been Luke Yates though that has proved to be a steal from Salford, making the second highest number of tackles in Super League (204) as well as 369 metres from 48 carries.

St Helens’s Agnatius Paasi fends off Huddersfield’s Matty English & Josh Jones. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Huddersfield have made a slow start to the new campaign, losing out to both Hull FC on the opening day and Catalans Dragons and scoring only ten points. Chris McQueen got on the scoresheet against the Dragons and is currently on a try scoring run, crossing the whitewash against Hull KR and last week against St Helens to lead for the Giants in tries scored this year.


2021 Squad


First Four Fixtures


Key Player

Huddersfield’s Aiden Sezer. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Aidan Sezer was Huddersfield’s star signing in 2020 and continues to inspire the Giants under Ian Watson. Signed from Canberra Raiders, Sezer made an instant impact on the League, finishing with the joint second highest number of try assists and 38 goals.

After injury ruled him out of the opening two rounds of this season, Sezer was back in action in round three to help the Giants fight back and draw with Hull KR, before the Robins won in extra time, and last week, he assisted Chris McQueen in scoring against the current league leaders St Helens. Despite his return, the Giants are still looking for their first win of the season and Sezer will be one to watch to get Watson’s side out of tenth place.


New Signings

Ins

  • Jack Ashworth (St Helens)
  • Jack Cogger (Canterbury Bulldogs)
  • Ricky Leutele (Melbourne Storm)
  • Josh Jones (Hull FC)
  • Olly Ashall-Bott (Free Agent)

Outs

  • Jordan Turner (Castleford Tigers)
  • Suaia Matagi (Loaned to Castleford Tigers)
  • Reiss Butterworth (Dewsbury Rams)
  • Adam Walne (Barrow Raiders)
  • Akuila Uate (retired)
  • Olly Ashall-Bott (Loaned to Wakefield for two weeks)

The Coach

Ian Watson is in his first year with Huddersfield after a fifth year spell with Salford Red Devils.

Before coaching the Red Devils, Watson previously played for Salford during their first season in Super League in 1997, signing from Workington Town. He went on to also play for Swinton Lions and Widnes before returning to Salford for a sole season in 2002. He had further stints at Halifax, Rochdale, Oldham, Leigh, Widnes again and Swinton a further two times before he hung up his boots in 2014.

Ian Watson

He joined the coaching staff at Salford and was promoted to head coach following the departure of Iestyn Harris in 2015. He helped keep the club in Super League that year but found himself in the Qualifiers again a year later; Gareth O’Brien’s drop goal saving Salford and relegating Hull KR. He had his best result at head coach in 2017, helping the Red Devils to a seventh place finish before he guided the club to it’s first Grand Final appearance in 2019. After struggling once more in 2020, he made the move to Huddersfield, signing a three year deal.


Returning Faces

Between the Leeds and Huddersfield’s squads there are five players that have played for both clubs.

For the Rhinos, Alex Mellor and Kruise Leeming both had lengthy stints in the claret and gold. Leeming was a product of the Giants’ Academy system and played 122 times between 2013 and 2019. Mellor was signed to Huddersfield from Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls in 2017 and played 79 games, including 27 starts in 2019. Brad Dwyer is the only other Leeds player to have played for the Giants. Dwyer spent a season on loan from Warrington with Paul Anderson’s side and made six appearances off the bench.

For Huddersfield, Ashton Golding and Owen Trout signed from Leeds in 2020. Both players came through the Rhinos’ Academy programme, with Golding making 54 appearances and scoring 38 points and Trout playing only three times during the 2019 campaign. Neither player has made a Super League appearance under Ian Watson so far in 2021; Golding missed the start of the Super League season after shoulder surgery and Trout has only made an appearance off the bench in the Challenge Cup.


Last Game vs Leeds at John Smith’s Stadium

Last time Leeds and Huddersfield met in a Giants home match, a drop goal from Luke Gale in golden point gave the Rhinos their first win of the Super League restart. The Rhinos rallied from 26-6 down with 15 minutes to go to send the match into Golden Point extra time, thanks to tries from Alex Mellor, Luke Briscoe, Luke Gale and two from Konrad Hurrell, before skipper Gale stepped up to hit the winning drop goal.