Coach hails “phenomenal” talent who doesn’t get the respect he deserves

Drew Darbyshire
Olly Russell Oliver Russell Huddersfield Giants SWpix

Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix

Huddersfield coach Ian Watson hailed young half-back Olly Russell after another impressive outing in Claret and Gold jersey.

Russell dictated play with his kicking game as he guided the Giants to a 26-16 win at Salford on Sunday afternoon.

The 24-year-old playmaker was making his fourth appearance of the season on Sunday, and was in good form with the boot, kicking five goals to help his side secure the points.

“Olly Russell is brilliant,” Watson said after the game. “Everyone doesn’t give him the respect (he deserves).

“We got here today and somebody from the opposition said (to him) ‘oh we didn’t expect you to be playing’ which kind of tells you people underestimate actually how good he is and the control he gives to the team.

“He’s basically at the moment replacing Theo (Fages) and that’s a big ask when Theo has won three Grand Finals back-to-back and you’ve got a young kid stepping in who is learning that kind of role and to be given that responsibility is kind of credit to where he is and his attitude in training.

“He’s doing a great job, I think he’s phenomenal.”

Olly Russell doing a great job, says Ian Watson

Watson added: “He’s really controlled. He doesn’t veer away from anything or make things up.

“There’s little bits of things he knows he can manage the game better but he’s got his game sorted out.

“He knows what his job is for the team and he knows what he wants everybody else to do and he does that really well, which then lets Jake Connor, Prycey (Will Pryce) and Tui (Lolohea) play football on the back end of that.”

Huddersfield’s international flavour

Watson also paid tribute to his international centre pairing of Kevin Naiqama (Fiji) and Esan Marsters (Cook Islands) after their win at Salford.

“They are two high quality players,” Watson told Love Rugby League. “Look what they were doing when they were playing in the NRL.

“Everyone knows about Kev because he has been over here before and has won Grand Finals with Saints. He’s a professional to a tee.

“Esan, in 2019 and 2020 whilst he was at the (Wests) Tigers, he was a New Zealand international and was killing it over there at the time as well.

“He lost his way a little bit but we’re lucky enough to have found him now and got him here. I think he’ll get back to his best, especially when the grounds start firming up.”

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