4th July 2018, 12:46 | super_league

Thorman talks up Connor ahead of Huddersfield return

Thorman talks up Connor ahead of Huddersfield return

Huddersfield coach Chris Thorman says former Giants utility back Jake Connor holds the key to the outcome of Thursday’s crucial Betfred Super League clash with Hull.

Connor has made a big impact with the Black and Whites since joining them from Huddersfield at the end of the 2016 season and is fresh from making an impressive Test debut in England’s win over New Zealand in Denver.

“I guess the man of the moment is Jake Connor and any team that has Jake in, whether he plays full-back, centre or in the halves, is a dangerous one,” Thorman said.

“When he was called up for England I texted him and told him I was proud of his achievements.

“It would have been nice if he was still in the claret and gold shirt rather than the black and white but that’s water under the bridge and I’ll watch his career fondly now.

“He was pretty impressive on his England debut and hopefully he’s not as impressive tomorrow night.”

Having coached Connor for the first four years of his career as a professional, Thorman knows all about the strengths and also the weaknesses of the Halifax-born player, who last week signed a new three-year contract with Hull.

“His effort wasn’t always the greatest, his attitude wasn’t always the greatest but he just had some uncoachable talents,” Thorman said.

“He did some freakish things with the ball that you just had to applaud at times. He also used to frustrate the life out of me as coach.

“At times he would take short cuts but he’s slowly and surely getting those out of his game. He’s a massive threat with the ball. He catches the ball better than anyone else I’ve seen.

“Hopefully we can put him under a bit of pressure. I do know his weaknesses, whether we can exploit them is a different matter. He can get agitated himself and we might have a half-back in our team that can agitate him a little bit.”

That half-back is veteran playmaker Danny Brough, who returns from a three-match suspension as the Giants look to haul themselves back out of the bottom four following their 37-10 hammering by Hull KR last Friday.

Hull need the points for a different reason as they look to keep in touch with the top four and coach Lee Radford will ensure his side are not complacent.

Radford said: “Huddersfield will want to respond to last week’s defeat against Hull KR and they’re also boosted by the return of Ukuma Ta’ai and Danny Brough so we’ll need to be on our game.”

Ta’ai has missed the last four matches with a knee injury and Thorman admits his return, like that of Brough, is timely.

“Ukuma Ta’ai is a big one for us,” Thorman said. “In my time at the Giants, Ukuma has been one of our most consistent performers and one of our best forwards.

“He gives us real punch in the middle and some real intelligence defensively too.

“And Danny is used to playing in highly-pressurised games. We’re looking forward to having him back.”