On a run of five consecutive home wins, Saturdays game against Wigan is a massive fixture for Hull FC.
It’s an important game in itself to keep tabs on fourth placed Huddersfield, but it’s also an opportunity to put down a marker against one of the big guns of Super League.
And having already beaten Salford, Huddersfield, Catalans, Toulouse, and basket case Warrington in this five game stretch on home turf, Hull should fancy their chances.
Making themselves difficult to beat at home was one of the main targets of 2022, and in a simplified approach with a focus on completion and defence, Hull have done that. They have mastered the dark arts whilst also flexing their muscles on occasion.
They’ve had grinds and gone all globetrotter, and up against another tough opponent the challenge will be to find some middle ground.
We all know what Wigan are about. They are tough and resilient and they show plenty of fight, but you can say exactly the same about the Black and Whites this year.
They’ve stuck in the contest and up against St Helens last week there were moments where they got at and rattled the champions.
A bit more attacking polish and who knows what could have happened, but that’s where the challenge lies now with more nous and craft required from the creative sorts.
On that front Luke Gale is likely to step back in after being left out at Langtree Park, with the under fire Josh Reynolds facing a battle to keep his place.
All eyes will be on Danny Houghton who will make his 400th Hull appearance. Regardless of current opinion, he’s been an outstanding servant over the last fifteen years and will go down as a club legend.
He’s not the force he once was though, and in an ideal world, Houghton would be spelled with Joe Lovodua, but both suspensions and the lack of form of Hull’s halves has seen the Fijian step in at stand off.
Lovodua has had his moments, but it’s about time Hull’s six and seven step up their game and justify their price tags.
There’s enough elsewhere in this Hull side to set the record straight, and against an opponent who may well have one eye on the Challenge Cup final next week.
They need to continue to set the platform with their forwards first, with Ligi Sao and Manu Ma’u both in sublime form.
Add to that Jack Brown, Jordan Lane and big Chris Satae, and the Hull side have a pack as good as any.
Those forwards have been magnificent this year and have ensured Hull can stick with their opponent.
Get the same intensity and drive in working to their points, and Hull won’t go far wrong.
They will feel they owe Wigan for the March defeat, with Harry Smith landing the decisive drop-goal.
Hull certainly caused Wigan problems that night and after a slow start they fought back hard and if we’re being brutally honest, they should have won the game.
Composure was the word back then and it is again now. If Hull get that then they should be confident of victory.
A sixth consecutive home win would be a massive statement, and a perfect end to a big Hull and Proud week in the community for the club.
Hull: 1. Jake Connor, 2. Adam Swift, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Darnell McIntosh, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Ligi Sao, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Jordan Lane, 14. Joe Lovodua, 16. Kane Evans, 20. Jack Brown, 21. Jordan Johnstone, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Connor Wynne, 24. Cameron Scott, 29. Jamie Shaul, 30. Scott Taylor.
Wigan: 1. Bevan French, 2. Jake Bibby, 4. Iain Thornley, 5. Liam Marshall, 6. Cade Cust, 8. Brad Singleton, 10. Patrick Mago, 11. Willie Isa, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. John Bateman, 14. Morgan Smithies, 16. Harry Smith, 17. Ollie Partington, 19. Ethan Havard, 20. Liam Bryne, 22. Joe Shorrocks, 23. Jai Field, 24. Abbas Miski, 25. Sam Halsall, 28. Brad O’Neil, 30. Matty Nicholson.
Hull remain without Andre Savelio (knee), Joe Cator (Achilles), and Ben McNamara (back). Brad Fash misses out due to the sports concussion protocols.
Wigan are missing Thomas Leuluai and Kai Pearce Paul to injury, and Sam Powell to suspension.
Scott Taylor was signed from Wigan having spent a year on loan at Salford.
Super League Head to Head
Played 61 – Hull wins 12 – Wigan wins 47 – Draws 2
Last Five Meetings
2022: Wigan 19 Hull 18
2021: Hull 0 Wigan 10
2021: Hull 20 Wigan 10 (played at Headingley)
2021: Wigan 16 Hull 14
2020: Wigan 29 Hull 2
Super League Round Thirteen, Hull FC vs Wigan, MKM Stadium, 3pm