Kevin Naiqama out to upset old club St Helens – who he cheered to world glory
KEVIN Naiqama will put aside any friendships tonight, will stop cheering on St Helens, will try and halt a ‘legend’ in James Roby.
This is all about Huddersfield showing they can be genuine Super League contenders by defeating the four-time defending champions and World Club Challenge winners.
Kevin Naiqama cheered St Helens on as they won the World Club Challenge. Tonight he aims to beat them with Huddersfield.SWPIX.COM
Naiqama is a big part of Saints’ dominance, playing in three of their four title victories before returning to Australia and reversing a decision to retire to play at NRL giants Sydney Roosters.
Now he is back on these shores, which he missed, after joining the Giants, he is determined to prove their class against the side he roared on as they defeating Penrith Panthers a month ago.
Getting the better of hooker Roby will help as Fijian star Naiqama said: “I can’t say a bad word about him but for 80 minutes, we’ll be bashing it up.
“James is a legend of the game and such a great leader, he’s someone that everybody in rugby league really respects.
“For him to still play at a high level and just get better is pretty crazy. It’ll be a different experience being ion the other side but one I’m looking forward to. I look at it as a challenge.
“A lot of Saints’ players are really good mates. We have a lot of memories from what we achieved in the tree years I was there.
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“I was quietly cheering Saints on at Penrith and hoping they’d win. They’re a great representation of Super League, how far it’s come and how strong it is now.
“Now I know what it feels like for the others wanting to knock Saints off but for 80 minutes I’m committed to doing anything we can do to get the win.
“And I feel like Ian is the right coach for the job in what he foresees for this club and what it wants to achieve – they play a very similar style to what I played at St Helens.”
Huddersfield and Watson will unleash arguably their biggest weapon tonight as Jake Connor makes his second debut off the bench.
And the coach told how it really is like going back in time, for the maverick’s first ever shirt from 10 years ago is still on the wall of conditioner Greg Brown’s gym!
Naiqama will be joined by Jake Connor as he tries to beat SaintsSWPIX.COM
Watson said, confirming Connor – who Naiqama describes as ‘a bit of a pest’ to face – will play at half back: “Greg was actually Jake’s first sponsor, he’s still got Jake’s first shirt up in his gym.
“He’s probably like a son of his but when you know someone so well, you can be even harder on them.
“I think Jake’s had enough of Greg, when the medical team passed iom over, GB was more than excited, Jake was dreading it.
“Last Thursday’s session nearly broke him. Luke Robinson and I then had to do some skills stuff with him and he was only just getting around the field!
“It’s definitely different than anything he’s had before and he’s said that but we think he’ll take us to another level.”