Pundit makes bold prediction on where Huddersfield Giants will finish this season

On Friday night, Huddersfield Giants suffered a crushing 48-0 defeat to Warrington Wolves, marking their eighth loss in nine games and leaving them eight points behind the playoff spots. Pundit Sam Tomkins has weighed in on where they might finish this season.

Ian Watson, a high-profile hire due to his success at Salford, has had a disappointing tenure at the John Smith’s Stadium, with only one playoff appearance. That appearance came in 2022 when the club finished third and reached the Challenge Cup Final, but this seems to be an exception. The Giants have consistently failed to be playoff contenders.

In Watson’s first season, Huddersfield Giants finished ninth, followed by another ninth-place finish in 2023. This year, they are currently eighth, just one point ahead of ninth-placed Leigh, who have a game in hand. This pattern indicates a ceiling for the Giants under Watson, and with key players Esan Marsters and Luke Yates leaving next season, there’s little hope for change.

Sam Tomkins echoed this sentiment on Sky Sports, saying, “I can’t see them making the top six. I think they’re likely to stay around their current position because that’s their level. They can have decent performances or really poor ones. As a group, they haven’t played well all season and face a lot of changes.”

Are Huddersfield Giants underachieving?

Esan Marsters Super League

Despite the club’s apparent plateau at ninth place, they have made numerous recruitments in recent years. Owner Ken Davy even claimed ahead of last season that he had assembled the best Huddersfield Giants team during his tenure.

One of the major recruits for that season, Jake Connor, has recently faced accusations of “not trying.” The full-back was dropped for several games before returning on Friday night, where he once again drew criticism.

However, Connor is not the only issue. The team’s first-half performance against Catalans ahead of the international break was described as “appalling” by Brian Carney. Sky Sports pundits Sam Tomkins and Jon Wilkin discussed this as they previewed Friday night’s game, which turned out to be even worse than the match in Perpignan two weeks prior.

Wilkin explained, “Watching it was like peeking through your fingers. I felt some sympathy for Ian Watson. As a coach, you can control tactics, recruitment, and many aspects of team performance, but you can’t prevent fundamental errors that are down to individual responsibility. There’s not much he can do in this situation.”

Sam Tomkins agreed, stating that Huddersfield Giants appeared to lack cohesion: “Some of the errors in the first half against Catalans were individual, unforced mistakes. These are coach-killers, and Huddersfield are not good enough to make that many mistakes and still win.

“Recently, it has seemed like they’ve never played together before. It was bizarre; they had structural errors, individual errors, and just looked really, really clunky.”

What should be the aim for the Giants?

As this season progresses, it seems increasingly like a write-off for Huddersfield Giants, making it difficult to determine what the club’s expectations should be. Following the heavy defeat by Warrington Wolves, Ian Watson stated that his team lacks sufficient quality, a point Sam Tomkins disagreed with.

The former England captain argued that Watson has had ample opportunity to build and shape his team, stating, “For a side that Ian Watson’s assembled, he’s chosen the best players he believes can create a dynasty at the club, and so far they’ve not delivered.”

Jon Wilkin agreed, noting, “I’ve seen three or four games this year where, I’m not going to say they’ve thrown in the towel, but they’ve been so despondent with their play that they’ve allowed the score to blow out.”

Regarding the club’s recent recruitment, Wilkin mentioned Ken Davy’s now infamous statement before suggesting that Huddersfield should be on the same upward trajectory as Hull KR, rather than stagnating.

“Since the 2022 season, things have just fallen away. Owner Ken Davy came out and said, ‘I’ve never given more resources to a coach. I’ve given him everything he can have.’ But you can only do that for so long.”

“I think if you pinned Ian Watson down and asked him, he’d expect to be in a similar position to Hull KR. We’re talking about them competing with Wigan and Saints. But I don’t think you can even put Huddersfield anywhere near that level,” Wilkin concluded.

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