Ian Watson confirms half-back partnership for Challenge Cup final

Ian Watson Huddersfield Giants SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Ian Watson has confirmed that Oliver Russell will be fit to face Wigan for this weekend’s Challenge Cup final.

Russell, 23, has been passed fit to play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Saturday against his former club.

He was a doubt in the lead up to the game after damaging a hamstring in last Friday’s Super League match against Toulouse.

However, Russell played a full part in the Giants’ captain’s run on Friday afternoon in the capital.

Ian Watson confirms Russell inclusion 

“Oliver Russell is fit,” said coach Watson on Friday afternoon. “He looked pretty good there in the final run.

“He ran a little bit tentatively on Wednesday which made us a bit nervous. But he’s come out today and absolutely trained outstandingly. He’s looked sharp as well so he’ll play.”

Watson confirmed Russel’s half-back partner would be Jack Cogger. The Australia made his return from his three-match ban last week, kicking the winning field goal.

Will Pryce is available after serving his 10-match suspension. However, it is believed that Ashton Golding will occupy the utility spot on the bench for Huddersfield.

Theo Fages injury 

Theo Fages, meanwhile, took part in the final stages of the captain’s run wearing a knee brace and is facing a lengthy lay-off, according to Watson.

“Something flashed up on the scan so we had to send him for another which came back showing a dent in the bone on top of the fibia,” Watson said.

“We got to a very delicate position where, if he played here and he hurt himself, it could be a long time before he came back.

“We had a real good discussion about that. Theo has signed on for us for three years and we want to be playing in these games every single year.

“It was taking that bit of short-term pain for a longer-term gain here.

“The specialist was confident that, if he missed this game, he will only miss eight weeks potentially so he could be back before the end of the year, which would be big for us.

“But he’s been brilliant for us. He was playing a part out here today with the young halves.

“We wanted him to be in around and part of the squad. And he will be tomorrow, to pass his experience onto people like Oliver Russell and Coggs.

“We forget how young they are and, with it being their first final, Theo being around will help them.”

More Giants squad news

Watson also confirmed that prop Matty English would be on the bench. He will take over from Sebastine Ikahihifo, after missing the semi-final through suspension and being left out of the Toulouse game.

“It looked last week like he was probably going to miss out,” Watson said.

“Seb played in the semi-final when his arm started to heal but it was still broken and – against Toulouse – we needed to see him at 100 per cent if he was going to feature in this game.

“Seb will tell you he wasn’t 100 per cent so it opened it up for Matty English to come in.”

Podcast: Kevin Brown previews Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup finals on the podcast

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About Josh McAllister 1532 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.

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