Ian Watson makes Jake Connor admission amid return to Huddersfield Giants first team action 

Josh McAllister
Jake Connor and Ian Watson

Jake Connor and Ian Watson.

Huddersfield Giants boss Ian Watson admits Jake Connor will have a focus on building his fitness for the remainder of the 2023 season following his return to first team action.

Connor, 28, was axed from the Super League side ahead of the clash with Leeds at Headingley Stadium and featured in the reserves curtain raiser in the 30-0 victory, with the first team suffering a huge 54-0 hammering to Rohan Smith’s Rhinos.

He was later named at full-back for the Super League Round 17 clash with Wigan at the DW Stadium in an improved performance, but still falling to a 22-6 defeat, marking Huddersfield’s 11th loss of the campaign.

Having returned to the John Smith’s Stadium ahead of 2023 from Hull, Connor was forced to wait until Round Six to mark his first appearance due to undergoing knee surgery during the off-season.

He has made a total of 11 appearances for the Giants so far, yet to register his first try of the season.

Huddersfield boss reviews Jake Connor return to action

“I thought he did alright. We spoke to Jake in the week and said that was the perfect game to put him back into,” Watson said on Connor following the defeat to Wigan.

“We’ve been building with Jake. We know where Jake is and he’ll still be building all the way through this year.

“He needs a good pre-season, he hasn’t had a pre-season for years to be fair to him.

“He needs that to get that kind of level of running that we need to get into him to be able to play full-back.

“I thought it was the perfect game for him to drop into and I thought overall he was pretty good. I know he made a couple of errors, but overall I was pretty pleased with him.

“It was the first time Oliver Russell, Jake and Tui [Lolohea] have actually played together.

“I think if you saw in the last 15 minutes, the way the attack was shaping up there, we started to open them up but we just needed to be better with our final pass.”

Ian Watson pleased with improved performance

The former Great Britain assistant was pleased with his side’s improved performance against the Warriors, labelling it as a ‘step forward’.

Huddersfield remain far outside the play-offs in 10th position, 10 points away from sixth-placed Salford and only two points above Andy Last’s Castleford in 11th.

“It was a big step forward, we looked more like a team,” Watson said.

“We asked them before the game, we wanted them to be a team and play together.

“I thought we stuck at the task. There was a lot more to be positive about there.

“I don’t think the score reflected the game. I just think they had four moments in the game and probably better game management from them.”

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