Ian Watson has praised Nathan Peats as one of the best nines he’s ever worked with upon his return to Huddersfield ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Peats, 32, first featured for the Giants on loan from Leigh in 2021. Watson insists he would have been keen to keep the former New South Wales representative, but the club had already agreed to bring in Danny Levi for 2023.
Levi’s later departure on compassionate grounds opened space for Peats to make his return to the John Smith’s Stadium, having featured for Toulouse last year.
Altogether, Watson has added nine off-season recruits to his squad for 2023, including Peats, Super League winner Kevin Naiqama and the return of Jake Connor.
Esan Marsters, Harry Rushton, Jake Bibby, Harvey Livett, Sam Halsall and Jack Bibby have all also made the move to the Yorkshire side.
Watson admits it wasn’t ideal preparation to have so many new faces at the club in one go. But with St Helens’ involvement in the World Club Challenge, it means the side don’t enter the Super League competition until the second week.
“The new signings have been brilliant” – Watson
“The new signings have been brilliant,” Watson told Love Rugby League.
“It’s been about getting them to fit into the right team mentality and doing the right things for the team. Ideally, you don’t want to have that many changes at the end of the year.
“But unfortunately, we had to because one thing or another, like Danny (Levi) leaving late and the Ricky (Leutele) contract situation going on for a long period of time.
“But the fact we’ve been able to replace those guys with the likes of Nathan Peats, who is phenominal, and Kevin (Naiqama) who is an absolute champion. It’s brilliant for us as a club and as a group.”
Ian Watson on Nathan Peats
Peats has made more than 200 career appearances to date, and even found himself in the French Elite 1 competition in 2022 with Albi before returning to Super League with Toulouse.
And Watson is happy to have the experienced hooker back, giving him the number nine shirt for 2023.
Watson explained: “It was a funny one. When Danny (Levi) said he was going to sign for us, we had just brought Nathan Peats in.
“We were originally told that we weren’t going to be able to get Nathan, so we made a contract offer to Danny Levi. And then we got Nathan Peats from Leigh, but we more or less already negotiated with Danny Levi.
“We kept Nathan up to date on that stuff and he obviously went to Toulouse. But then when we found out he had a clause in his contract and we could pinch him back this year, it was a no-brainer for us.
“He’s one of the best nines I’ve ever worked with. His competitive nature as well is unreal.
“He’s adamant he wants to win something. When you watch him train, it’s like he’s been a winner anyway in what he’s done. He’s played at the top level with State of Origin and stuff like that and you don’t play there unless you’re a winner anyway.
“But you see it in him. He’s a dead set winner and hopefully he can prove to us and help us win things.”