The stock of Ian Watson is rising, with the Huddersfield boss fast becoming one of the most admired coaches in the game.
That’s the view of Giants legend Eorl Crabtree who made over 400 appearances for the club and played in losing Challenge Cup finals in 2006 and 2009.
Speaking on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast, Crabtree reveals how he rates Watson as highly as previous bosses Tony Smith and Nathan Brown, who he regards as the best coach he has ever played for.
And despite Wigan coming out on top to clinch a 20th Challenge Cup, Crabtree was again left impressed with the Huddersfield head coach.
“His stock is rising,” he says. “He is articulate, thoughtful, humble, smart in what he says and gives credit to the opposition. It is about discipline, team first and not egos. You are a tough team to beat if everyone is buying into the same system.
“I’m excited as a Huddersfield boy. I’ve been around quite some time under different coaches, some great coaches, some good ones and some very average ones. I see something different under Ian Watson.
“Nathan Brown is the best coach I have ever had. Tony Smith taught me the most, although we had our differences. Brown helped me go to another level and took me under his wing and helped me. Some others along the way didn’t understand me at all. That is the difference with Watson. He understands his players.
“He has got people running through brick walls for him and that in itself is a skill, and there are not many coaches who I’ve known that you would do that for. Ian Watson has his players’ backs and they will have his as well.”
Ian Watson reaping the rewards
Rather than over-coaching his players, it is the simplicity of Watson’s messaging that is reaping rewards for his team, according to Crabtree.
“Obviously I’m biased and the tactics he uses are quite simple ones but they are based on team mentality and doing the right thing, rather than individual efforts to win games.
“If somebody drops out, somebody fills in, it is the same gameplan. Running it on the last is a smart play, it is pinning them into a corner, taking territory.”
PODCAST: Eorl Crabtree dissects Challenge Cup final & predicts successful Huddersfield future
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