Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford is hoping the Wardle brothers can combine to end the unbeaten record of Super League leaders St Helens.
The siblings appeared together for the first time last Friday when they played key roles in an impressive first victory of the season at reigning champions Wigan and will be in harness for a second time on Thursday night when Huddersfield aim to pull off another surprise win.
“It was a special moment for those two,” Woolford said. “Joe said a couple of weeks ago he wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen.”
Woolford caused something of a stir when he brought back Joe Wardle, 27, from Castleford for a second spell at the Giants, swapping him for utility back Jordan Rankin, but he had been impressed with him during a brief stint in Australia with Newcastle Knights, where he was assistant coach.
“There was some criticism over our decision to bring Joe back, but I’m sure those people have changed their tune,” Woolford said.
“I knew what Joe would bring to our club. Obviously I had a bit to do with him at the Knights. He didn’t settle in Australia which is unfortunate because he could have stayed out there and played as long as he wanted.
Jake, 20, will make only his seventh senior appearance on Thursday but is destined for big things in Super League, according to his coach.
“Jake’s an outstanding talent,” Woolford said. “He’s just out of academy and a bit of a work in progress but, down the track, I’ve got no doubt Jake Wardle will be one of the best, if not the best, centres in this competition.
“He’s a fantastic athlete and his game awareness for a young kid is unbelievable.
“It’s just a matter of getting Jake physically right. I’d imagine after another pre-season with Jake, he’ll be a lot further advanced, but I’m certainly positive in what Jake is going to add to our team this year.”
Woolford will recall another academy product, 21-year-old prop Matty English, for the game against St Helens in place of Aaron Murphy, who was the only casualty of a bruising encounter at Wigan.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook has the luxury of being able add in-form hooker James Roby to his team after resting him against London Broncos last Friday.
“James has been a fantastic player for a long time and this year he’s playing like a 20-year-old,” Woolford said. “He’s obviously one of many we’ll have to do a job on.
“We’re going to have the same attitude with our defence that we had at Wigan and we’re probably going to have to be a bit better to be honest. We will need to be more clinical with the ball.”
Holbrook said: “Huddersfield had a good win over Wigan at the weekend which will give them some confidence.
“They have got a big strong pack of forwards and some powerful outside backs so they carry the ball strongly and it is up to us to keep going the way we are.”
Huddersfield squad: Darnell McIntosh, Jermaine McGillvary, Jordan Turner, Akuila Uate, Lee Gaskell, Matt Frawley, Kruise Leeming, Suaia Matagi, Alex Mellor, Michael Lawrence, Oliver Roberts, Ukuma Ta’ai, Matty English, Jake Wardle, Colton Roche, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Sam Hewitt, Innes Senior, Joe Wardle.
St Helens squad: Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Joseph Paulo, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles, Kyle Amor, Dom Peyroux, Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth, Aaron Smith, Lachlan Coote.
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