12 Feb 2024
Huddersfield Giants 2024 Season Preview
Take an inside look into the Huddersfield Giants as we head into the 2024 season.
The Betfred Super League 2024 season is finally upon us. Pre-season friendlies are over, Super League Launch is done, 4 months of work on the training pitch is behind us and this week, the Huddersfield Giants will line-up away at Leigh Leopards for Round One of the season. So it's time to take a look ahead into 2024, and from the view of someone who has seen all the hard work behind the scenes on and off the field, let's find out what, we all, as Giants fans can look forward to in the next 12 months.
The first place to start is by accepting that 2023 didn't go how any of us had planned or wanted to go. This is a fact that Ian Watson, coaching staff, players, backroom staff and stadium staff are all very open about. The heights that we as a club reached in 2022 was phenomenal, a Challenge Cup final and 3rd place finish at the end of the regular season set expectations high in 2023 whilst giving us a taste of what we want to be a regular occurrence. But I believe the disappointment of last season can fuel the fire for 2024. Lessons have been learnt and steps have already been taken to make sure that we as a team are best prepared as we all head into the season.
The first place to start, is those brought into the squad for the first time, here are just some of highlights:
Adam Swift - The flying winger had his joint best ever scoring season in 2023, drawing level with his 2015 season at St Helens where in both he crossed the white line 22 times. Including a phenomenal run of NINE consecutive games where he scored 12 tries. Swift adds a much needed and accepted injection of pace onto the Giants wing, an area which Ian Watson repeated a call for improvement on when it came to lethal and clinical finishing. Giants fans have already been treated to a peak of what Swift may bring to the squad, with four tries in two pre-season friendlies against Super League opposition. His speed, athleticism and experience is something that genuinely excites me as someone who works with a camera at the club, waiting for one of his phenomenal flying efforts into the corner.
Adam Clune - Clune is a player who looks as though he could be the centre piece of this Huddersfield Giants squad. He's speed, hands and decision making skills are elite at a minimum. And where we faced pain last season was with a spine that had to be, through completely unavoidable means, rotated on a number of occasions, with Jake Connor, Tui Lolohea, Oliver Russell, Kieran Rush, Nathan Peats, Ashton Golding and Adam Milner all making rotated appearances as a part of that spine. This season we will be looking to settle with a more regular spine, that gives us a more settled run throughout the year, with Clune potentially being the heartbeat of it.
Jack Murchie - Despite being only 26 years-old Jack has some vast and crucial experience that could be pivotal in this new look, younger Huddersfield Giants team. With over 100 appearances across the NRL and NSW Cup during his time down under. Jack is stepping into some big shoes in 2024, with fans favourite Chris McQueen ending his career with the Giants in 2023, the second rower will be looking to continue where Chris left off. Jack is a big lad, good in the air and homes deceptive levels of pace, make no mistake, if Jack makes a line break, it's going to take a lot to stop him.
Outside of the players that are new to the club, we also have those already a part of the team who Giants fans need to keep an eye on as they could be in for a big 2024. And number one on that list, is our Number 1, Jake Connor. In 2023 Jake joined the club still recovering from injury. Jake didn't get a pre-season in 2023 thanks to that, and as a result he had to build his fitness on the fly during the season made evident by the fact that he got 10 assists in his final seven games. But Jake has looked particularly sharp, strong and, despite his own beliefs, fit during pre-season. Jake Connor, as we all know, is the sort of player who can decide the outcome of any match, and if he is back to his best, the combination of himself, Tui Lolohea, Adam Clune and pace on the wings could seriously be lethal.
Sam Hewitt. An academy lad, a fan favourite, a player with energy, enthusiasm, passion and power and the Giants new #12. Something you never fail to see with Sam is his love for the game, and I have mentioned to him personally how much I love watching him when he gets onto the field. A no fear approach to any opposition has seen him go toe to toe with some of the biggest names in the Super League and come out on top. Last season Sam spent a period out on loan at Wakefield, a period of his career which Sam has openly stated challenged him mentally as he eyed a starting shirt in the Claret and Gold. But the 24 Year-Old seems to have made the desired impression, and whilst you can't look to far into someone's shirt number, getting the 12 shirt has been important to Sam as he looks to cement that starting 13 spot and prove that he can be one of the most influential players in the Giants pack.
Sam Halsall. Sam is a player that we can't get enough of right now. In 2023 Sam had a brilliant breakout season for the Giants after joining from Wigan. Sam made his Giants Super League debut in Round 6 of the season and went on to play 17 times and scoring on 9 occasions. But Sam's real rise came between round 18 and 27, he played in every match, put himself forward as one of the clubs starting players and in 11 games (Including the re-arranged Round 1 match) scored 7 times playing the Wing position for the first time in his career. Sam has looked strong in pre-season, showing his ariel prowess, continued growth of strength in defence and brilliant Rugby IQ at only 22. If Sam continues to improve at the rate which he did within last season, then we have a fantastic young player on our hands who could be a massive asset to the Huddersfield Giants.
Off the field, the club continues to grow. A women's super league team that will now be run as a part of the club rather than under the Community Trust, shows the ever growing ambition of the club to reach, influence and inspire all members of the Huddersfield community and open our club to as many men, women and children as possible.
The clubs digital arm concluded its 2nd successive record breaking year, an ever important area of the club as the influence of IMG looks to see growth in all facets of the club. More behind the scenes footage, ideas for special features, greater coverage of games across our Men, Women, Academy and Scholarship team and the fastest growing YouTube channel in the Super League lead to an exciting prospect in 2024 as we all aspire to improve and grow, the quality and quantity of everything that we do.
Commercially, the addition of the women's team and the development of the new training field at Laund Hill have offered great new opportunities for sponsors. All this alongside the release of the Huddersfield Giants branded bus and LED advertising screens across the Huddersfield town centre, as well as many more exciting ideas to come, means that the club has never been more visible in and around Huddersfield and online.
Oh and even though it might not be a 2024 thing, the arrival of a certain Tom Burgess in the 2025 season, clearly shows the ambition that we all at this club have, with how big we want to be and what we want to achieve. And to those who doubt or like to criticise based on age, let me just drop you some names; Chris McQueen, Chris Hill and Kevin Naiqama. I'll say nothing more.
All in all there are so many reasons to be optimistic, excited and proud to be Giants fan in 2024 with the Super League fixtures being one of them:
- An Easter Weekend trip to the capital to play London Broncos on rivals round will provide a fantastic backdrop to what should be an electric game.
- Double Header at home against Wigan for both the men and the women on May 11th.
- A trip to France in the height of Summer, a fan favourite may prove to be a fantastic opportunity for a fan break in Perpignan for a fixture which we enjoyed greatly in 2023.
- And a phenomenal final four, all at home, to run in to the end of the regular season which could prove pivotal to our season with all the Cowbell Army behind us on every occasion.
We can't wait to see all of you throughout 2024 as we look to better ourselves in every way whilst achieving everything we want, on and off the field. COME ON YOU GIANTS!