Ian Watson reacts to Wakefield’s pitch inspection drama and reveals preparations for hybrid surface

Josh McAllister
Ian Watson Huddersfield

Huddersfield head coach Ian Watson pleaded that his side’s game against Wakefield needed to take place this week amid Belle Vue’s pitch inspection.

Wakefield’s pitch passed an examination on Wednesday afternoon, and will host the Giants on Friday with a 7:45pm kick-0ff.

Due to St Helens’ involvement in the World Club Challenge, Huddersfield already find themselves one week behind from the rest of Super League. They fell to a 26-16 home defeat to Warrington in Round Two.

And Watson admitted he couldn’t afford not to see his side play during Round Three.

“We needed the game to be on,” he said during his pre-match press conference.

“We couldn’t have had the game not on, to be fair. We’re already a week behind everybody else.

“What we couldn’t do this week was have another week off. It would have been detrimental to us.”

Ian Watson on preparation for hybrid pitch

Catalans boss Steve McNamara revealed that seven players had infections following their opening round clash against Wakefield, which impacted their Round Two fixture with Leigh.

It forced officials to reinspect Belle Vue’s pitch, but it was deemed fit for purpose on Wednesday afternoon.

Watson admits his side will be better prepared for the hybrid surface, training on the same type of pitch during the week, while the medical team will also play their part.

He said: “You’re always a little bit worried about what you’ve seen throughout the week. But the thing is now, we’ve got to put that in the back of our minds. It’s about going there and doing a job.

“We train on those kind of surfaces anyway. We’ve got a really good surface that we train on in Siddal which is very similar to the one that Wakefield’s got.

“Hopefully the experience of that will help us. But we’ve got a really good medical team and things in place to deal with things if anything arises form that game.

“We’ve already spoken about it. It’s about preparing in all the right areas and making sure the medical team have got things for after the game if needs be. The big thing for us now is focussing on the game, not the field and what comes after.”

“We threw loads of options forward as a club”

Watson does feel however that the competition should have been better prepared, with the confirmation of the fixture only taking place 48 hours ahead of the game.

Featherstone had reportedly offered their services to host the fixture, while Huddersfield also provided several options.

“All this could have been avoided by proper planning with what they did in and around the pitches,” Watson explained.

“It looks like it’s been a little bit overused since it’s been first put down to not allow the grass to grow.

“We threw loads of options forward as a club. If you look back to Covid times and how good the game was at adapting and neutral venues, double-headers, all that kind of stuff. As an organisation, why couldn’t we come up with that again?

“I know there’s a few clubs who have put their hand up and offered their services to Wakefield. But I understand Wakefield’s point of view for the financial implications that it has on them, which obviously you don’t want clubs losing money.

“But this is a consequence of their actions, it’s not a consequence of Huddersfield’s. For that reason, I felt that they should have looked at an alternative stadium.

“But it is what it is now. We’re playing at Wakefield and we’re more than happy to play there.”

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