Huddersfield are going into Friday’s Super League game at Hull with a squad that has been severely affected by Covid, injuries and All Stars selection.
The Giants have lost hooker Adam O’Brien and centre Jake Wardle to major injuries and have also had five players selected for the Combined Nations All Stars team to play England on the same night.
Head coach Ian Watson says the club considered asking for a postponement but have instead opted to field a youthful team, with the likelihood of two debutants.
“It was off and for some reason they came back with the game,” Watson said. “I think it’s more circumstances.
“Hull don’t really want the game to be cancelled because it’s their first game with supporters.
“Would it have been better to postpone it? Yes potentially, especially with 10 guys coming back from Covid, but we’re trying to look at it positively. We’ll get on with it and accept it.
England vs Combined Nations All Stars
June 25, 2021, 8:00pm
“We’ve still got 13 at the moment but the RFL are going through their processes, waiting for paperwork to be signed off and for young lads to be registered.
“We’ve got a team and we’re happy as well with what we’ve got to be honest.
“It’s exciting in many ways to see the youthfulness of the squad and the energy that brings. Training was fast this morning and energetic as well. They just need to control that and go out and perform.
“It’s what they’ve all been waiting for, the young lads and those out on loan, they dream of playing Super League and they’ve got to make the most of their opportunity.”
Hull have lost Jake Connor, Andre Savelio and Chris Satae to the All Stars but have Cameron Scott and Joe Cator back from injury.
“Connor and Satae have been their main players this year so that will change their dynamics but they’ve got a helluva team,” Watson said.
“They’ve always been a top-end-table team, we will go there and put our best foot forward. We’ll hopefully give them a game and maybe cause an upset.”
Wardle’s ankle injury, which denied him the chance of making his England debut, means he is facing between 12 and 16 weeks on the sidelines, along with O’Brien, who needs surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder sustained in the 9-8 defeat by Salford.
The former Bradford player missed the second half of the 2020 season with a broken neck and is now, like Wardle, facing a lay-off of between 12 and 16 weeks.
Watson said: “It’s devastating for Adam if you think about what he went through last year with a broken neck. It’s just a bad outcome, he’s had a rough two years.
“He was desperate to play and play well in that game. His missus had just had a baby the night before but he made himself available.
“He’ll come back better from it and at least gets to spend a little bit of time at home, probably trying to get out of changing nappies with his sore shoulder.”
Salford forward James Greenwood was sent off for the high tackle on O’Brien but his red card was rescinded when it was confirmed referee Scott Mikalauskus had sent off the wrong man.
Full-back Dan Sarginson was given a three-match ban for the challenge while Mikalauskas has been demoted to the Championship this weekend, a scenario predicted by Watson, who tried in vain to point out the error to the match officials.
“I said at the time he would be made accountable but somebody on his team should have helped him out,” Watson said.
Hull 18-man squad: Bureta Faraimo, Mahe Fonua, Josh Reynolds, Marc Sneyd, Danny Houghton, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Jordan Johnstone, Joe Cator, Jordan Lane, Brad Fash, Ben McNamara, Jack Brown, Adam Swift, Connor Wynne, Cameron Scott, Mitieli Vulikijapani, Jack Logan.
Giants 13-man squad: Ashton Golding, Jake Wardle, Lee Gaskell, Josh Jones, Joe Greenwood, Oliver Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, James Gavet, Louis Senior, Owen Trout, Sam Hewitt, Ronan Michael, Olly Ashall-Bott.
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