Huddersfield boss Ian Watson says Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull KR is the first step of the progression of the rejuvenated Giants, as they look to claim their first silverware in a decade.
Huddersfield won the League Leader’s Shield in 2013, last claimed the Challenge Cup in 1953 but reached Cup finals in 2006 and 2009.
Watson took over at the John Smith’s Stadium at the end of 2020, but after a difficult debut season in charge, now has the Giants into the final four of the Cup and sitting in fifth place in Super League.
“I’m hugely looking forward to it,” the coach told Everything Rugby League on facing Hull KR at Elland Road.
“This is what I came to Huddersfield for. This is what I’m trying to build – a team that’s competing for trophies.
“This is the first step for us on the ladder to be able to do that consistently for a long period of time.”
Support the boys in their biggest game for a decade as they face Hull KR in the Betfred Challenge Cup Semi Final, on Saturday 7th May at 5:00pm!
— Huddersfield Giants (@Giantsrl) April 29, 2022
Huddersfield finished ninth in 2021 and only won nine games. But already this season the west Yorkshire side has notched six wins and a draw from 11 matches, with the likes of Chris McQueen, Tui Lolohea, Luke Yates and Josh Jones starring.
“The biggest thing is that the players midway through last season really got a grip of how we wanted to play,” Watson said.
“The younger players kind of stepped forward in the back end of last year and did really well. We were playing like 10 players under-21 last year and we were winning games as well, which is a really big plus for the club.
“It kind of justified our decision that it’s the right club to go forward with and build things as well.
“The players that have come in this year, and how hard they’ve worked for each other, has really typified what we want to be about and what we want to achieve going forward.
“This is the first step for us, we have to make sure we get through this hurdle and to a bigger one now.”
A date in the Cup final at Tottenham against either Wigan or St Helens awaits the winner of Saturday’s semi-final.
🎥 What this all means…
🗣️ Watto: "It's what we came here for"
— Huddersfield Giants (@Giantsrl) May 5, 2022
The Robins are missing Lachlan Coote, Sam Wood, Mikey Lewis and Albert Vete through injury and suspension, and are coming off a loss against Leeds, arguably giving the Giants a slight edge.
But Watson has shrugged off any claim to his team having the tag as favourites.
“Coming to a semi-final I don’t think there’s favourites, it’s a one-off game,” the 45-year-old said.
“I’ve been involved in a couple now so I know what it takes to be involved in a semi-final and how to win it.
“What we’ve got is a good group of players and about sticking to the process, and having belief in each other to get through there.”