Huddersfield coach insists Naiqama is NOT a replacement for Leutele

Drew Darbyshire
Kevin Naiqama and Ricky Leutele Huddersfield

Huddersfield coach Ian Watson insists that he wants both Kevin Naiqama and Ricky Leutele to be playing for him next year.

On Thursday night, the Giants announced the signing of Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama on a two-year deal from 2023.

The club’s signing of Naiqama fuelled speculation on social media that off-contract centre Ricky Leutele could be on his way out.

However, Watson has insisted that they want to keep Leutele, with the Giants offering him an improved deal on Thursday.

“That’s not the case,” Watson said when asked if Naiqama was a replacement for Leutele.

“I spoke with Ricky yesterday explaining that Kevin is definitely coming, but that it is in no way any replacement for him.

“Ricky has got his contract offer and we spoke to Ricky’s agent yesterday again. I believe the club has sent an offer again to Ricky’s agent.

“This is not a replacement for Ricky”

“This is it now, we need to know where Ricky is at and what he’s doing.

“If Ricky walks in today and signs his contract, Kev and Ricky will be here next year. But if Ricky does go then we’ll have to look to replacement Ricky on the back of that.

“Kev is coming in to assist us in the right direction of where we want to go. Hopefully Ricky sees the potential of what we want to do as well and stays here.

“From all the conversations I’ve had with Ricky, he says he wants to stay here. We just need to get it done and over the line because it just keeps dragging on.”

Watson has previously stated that he would like long-serving centre Leroy Cudjoe to stay at the club for next season, but the ex-England international has yet to sign on the dotted line.

Ireland World Cup hopeful Toby King recently joined the Giants on loan for the rest of the season from Warrington, with Jake Wardle going the other way.

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