Ian Watson discusses recent pressure and says Huddersfield are heading in the right direction

Josh McAllister
Ian Watson, SWPix.

Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com.

Huddersfield head coach Ian Watson is aware of the outside pressure building on his team after their disappointing start to the 2023 season.

But the 46-year-old coach is embracing that responsibility and believes the club is heading in the right direction, despite their current position on the Super League table.

Expectations of Huddersfield were high at the beginning of the year following their eye-catching recruitment drive which included the likes of Kevin Naiqama, Jake Connor and Esan Marsters.

However, Watson’s side have only managed four wins from 10 so far in the Super League campaign and were recently knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Salford, having reached the final at Tottenham last year.

The recent form, which includes four straight losses in league and cup, has seen a handful of fans calling for Watson to be relieved of his duties.

But the ex-Great Britain assistant is ready to take on the challenge and turn Huddersfield’s season around. 

Ian Watson: We’re heading in the right way with the group that we’ve got.

Asked if he was feeling some pressure, Watson explained: “I can’t say no, but in some ways…no.

“We’re heading in the right way with the group that we’ve got. 

“We lost a couple of important players at the back end of last year and late on as well, so then this team became a new team and a different team. 

“There’s some players that missed all of the pre-season because either of the World Cup or injuries, but we knew that, we can’t make an excuse about that.

“The thing I can’t lose sight of, I know what players I’ve brought in, I know where I want to try and take the club and the players know that and they know where they want to go as a team as well. 

“We need to focus not only the results, but building that process. That’s something I lost sight of in the last couple of weeks as well where you start hearing a bit of external noise but that’s not for me to worry about and it’s not for the players to worry about. 

“We just need to go and do our job. There’s pressure no matter how you look at it in every competition. 

“Sport is built on pressure. You need to embrace it and accept it as a challenge rather than let it drag you down.”

Huddersfield boss ready for the challenge

Watson is using past experiences to help lead Huddersfield to future success, having coached Salford through the Middle 8s before leading the Red Devils to the 2019 Grand Final and the 2020 Challenge Cup final.

“You’re aware of it because people tell you. It doesn’t bother me, I’ve had it before,” Watson continued on outside noise and pressure. 

“The big thing is to stay focussed on your task and the belief in what you’re doing. Everyone knows the processes we have and the right things to be doing. 

“At this moment in time, we’re just not winning and we need to turn that into our favour.

“It’s been worse than this. You learn a helluva lot, you learn about things that you’ve done wrong and things your team has done right and wrong. 

“It’s about learning from them and being better going forward. If you’re willing to learn, you’ll improve going forward.”

Watson also ensures that the board at Huddersfield have not held recent conversations about his future, knowing the vision he had when he was first appointed in November 2020. 

“I’ve not really had those discussions. I know the board were behind what we wanted to build,” Watson explained.  

“I know I will and the group will as well. It’s a good group that’s going in the right direction. 

“Whichever way you look at it, the club will be in a better position for everything we’ve done so far, I’ve 100% confidence in that.”

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