Match Preview – Huddersfield vs Hull KR


Luke Yates targets Challenge Cup glory with Huddersfield

Luke Yates knows what it takes to reach the Challenge Cup final, although this time he and his teammates will also have the added support of a crowd.

The loose Australian striker was part of the Salford Red Devils squad that reached the showpiece at Wembley in 2020, although restrictions in place to curb the Covid-19 pandemic at the time meant that all of their matches were at this race were played behind closed doors, except for a handful of dignitaries and media.

Now with Huddersfield Giants, who face Hull Kingston Rovers in this year’s semi-final on Saturday, Yates is looking forward to having the Cowbell Army in his side’s corner at Elland Road as well as potentially for the final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 28 after the experience of two years ago.

“It was weird,” Yates said of that 17-16 Cup final loss to Leeds Rhinos. “We went for a walk [Wembley] the day before after the captain’s run and we went on game day, and it was the exact same vibe.

“It was weird. We used to play in front of no fans, but we had the anthems going before the game and you thought ‘this is the weirdest thing ever’.

“We haven’t had as much excitement because you weren’t allowed to do anything so if we win on Saturday I think the week will be a lot more pumped up but I think we’ll be better for it. .

“I know I can handle the emotions of a cup final much better personally, but we’ll see how we go. We have to get the win on Saturday to give ourselves a chance.”

Yates played for Salford in the Challenge Cup final behind closed doors in 2020

Yates played for Salford in the Challenge Cup final behind closed doors in 2020

Yates is not the only former Red Devil to ply his trade at John Smith’s Stadium, with Tui Lolohea, Josh Jones and Sebastine Ikahihifo all having moved to West Yorkshire to join their former Salford head coach, Ian Watson.

The 26-year-old, voted Giants captain by his teammates at the start of the year, is also excelling so far in 2022, including scoring a try as Huddersfield ended their long run without a win at Wakefield Trinity with a 14 -12 win last time out in the Super League and regularly leading the tackle count for his team.

Former Newcastle Knights NRL player Yates attributes this to forming a strong relationship with Watson after his initial move to Salford from the London Broncos and believes the former Wales international half-back knows exactly how to get the most out of it.

“He’s a good boy and we have a pretty good relationship,” Yates said. “He knows what to take from me, I know what to take from him, so that’s good.

Match Preview - Huddersfield vs Hull KR

We definitely have the team where if we show up on our day we can beat anybody. I’m confident we can go out there, perform and get to the final.

Huddersfield Giants Captain Luke Yates

“That’s what he demands of me and I think he knows the right way to piss me off or make me think about doing something a little different.

“Without going into too much technical detail, he just knows how to boost to get the best out of yourself. You might think you’re doing something really good, but he’ll tell you you’re not, so you go away, come back and meet somewhere in the middle.

“He’s a great coach and I really enjoy playing for him.”

If Huddersfield can beat Hull KR in the second of Saturday’s semi-finals – the winners will face either St Helens or holders St Helens or 19-time cup winners Wigan Warriors – then that would keep their hopes of lifting alive. the trophy for the first time since 1953.

Luke Yates powered up to close the gap between Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity

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Luke Yates powered up to close the gap between Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity

Luke Yates powered up to close the gap between Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity

Since that Peter Ramsden-inspired triumph at Wembley 69 years ago, the Giants have come closest in 1962, 2006 and 2009, and as well as claiming the Super League leaders’ shield in 2013, top honors have come escaped the club since. their last championship 60 years ago.

Yates, however, is determined to be the man to bring one of rugby league’s top prizes back to the city that holds such historic significance to the sport.

“People don’t talk about it much, but when I was made captain and started a leadership group, I said if that’s not our goals, we’re wasting our time here,” Yates said.

“Huddersfield is a great club, the birthplace of rugby league, and that’s where it deserves to be.

Huddersfield's Luke Yates and Hull KR's Shaun Kenny-Dowall battle it out ahead of Saturday's semi-final

Huddersfield’s Luke Yates and Hull KR’s Shaun Kenny-Dowall battle it out ahead of Saturday’s semi-final

“We definitely have the team where if we show up on our day we can beat anybody. I’m confident we can go out there and perform and get to the final.”

Named squads

Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Jake Wardle, Ricky Leutele, Ashton Golding, Tui Lolohea, Theo Fages, Chris Hill, Danny Levi, Michael Lawrence, Josh Jones, Chris McQueen, Luke Yates, Joe Greenwood, Owen Trout, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Adam O’Brien, Oliver Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, Olly Russell, Innes Senior, Jack Ashworth.

Hull Kingston Rovers: Ben Crooks, Brad Takairangi, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Ryan Hall, Jordan Abdull, Matt Parcell, George King, Dean Hadley, Kane Linnett, Matty Storton, Jez Litten, Luis Johnson, Korbin Sims, Elliot Minchella, Jimmy Keinhorst, Will Dagger, Rowan Milnes, Will Maher, Ethan Ryan, Greg Richards, Will Tate.




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