Preparation for 2022 is well underway with Hull FC pre-season training ongoing.
The club have done their wheeling and dealing, more than many predicted, with players signed up and in a handful of cases moved on.
It’s a start, but there’s still a way to go and after another underwhelming year that began with promise but ended in disappointment, it’s important that expectation is managed.
Still, despite form being a mixed bag and second half of the season displays curing the insomniacs, there is quality at Brett Hodgson’s disposal and going into his second season as Hull FC boss, it’ll be interesting to see how he nurtures it.
Jake Connor – With the ball Jake is nothing short of sensational but the challenge now is to become the complete all-round fullback. If he does that, then he’ll be the best player in the competition. He’s that good.
Jamie Shaul – Second choice now and faces a big battle to get back in the side. Perhaps a change of position is needed.
Connor Wynne – Great on his feet and has speed to burn. Got to first stand out in the returning Reserves competition, whether at fullback or centre.
Adam Swift – Hodgson opted for pace over power on the wing and it certainly worked. Swift had a superb year. The challenge now is to stay injury free and kick on.
Darnell McIntosh – Ruptured his Achilles ironically playing against Hull but he’s still an exciting signing. His attitude throughout his rehab seems to have been positive and he’s exactly the type of winger Hodgson wants. Speed to burn. Yes then.
Mitieli Vulikijapani – Raw and it showed at times, but overall he did okay in the half a dozen games he got. Likely to feature more in 2022.
Harvey Barron – Over 6 foot tall, rapid as anything, and still a teenager. Patience is the name of the game here. Needs a good run in the Reserves.
Carlos Tuimavave – Consistently brilliant and oozes class, but if he could add one more thing to his armoury it would be tries. That’s a collective thing as a team though.
Josh Griffin – The powerful centre was up there amongst Hull’s best before he suffered a season ending Achilles injury. He’ll be back with a bang – there’s no doubt about that.
Cameron Scott – Took a lot of unjustified criticism (especially early on) but he definitely improved as the year went on. That must continue.
Marcus Walker – Utility back who made his debut away at Catalans. Another who needs to shine in the Reserves set up.
Josh Reynolds – Hull’s record without Reynolds is absolutely shocking and they won far more games with him in the side. If Hull are going to be a threat in 2022, then they need all the dynamics of their spine on the pitch together. Reynolds is a big part of that spine.
Luke Gale – Shock addition after the shock departure of Marc Sneyd to Salford. Arrives on a one year deal and brings something different to the side. Hull needed that change, we were all screaming for it, and the club have delivered. Whether its the right change, time will tell, but a new direction certainly freshens things up a bit.
Ben McNamara – Found it tough at times but it’s easy to forget he’s still a teenager. The Reserves will help him and he deserves time. The key here is patience.
Jacob Hookem – Played the final game of the season at Wakefield and was just about the only positive on a terrible night. Intrigued to see how he develops.
Scott Taylor – After two injury hit years, the Beverley lad needs a massive season and it starts this winter.
Ligi Sao – A fan of Ligi and both his go-forward and footwork are superb, but he can improve the other side of his game, starting with discipline. He’s not on his own there like.
Chris Satae – The big prop was nothing short of outstanding all year. Could be even better with Kane Evans and a fit again Taylor to go with him.
Kane Evans – Massive bloke with personality, aggression, and some interesting vocabulary wrote onto his wrist strapping. He’s exactly what Hull need and at well over 100 NRL games, he’s got plenty of experience too.
Brad Fash – Deserved his new deal and he also deserves some respite. Shouldn’t have as much responsibility next year which is a good thing.
Jack Brown – Shame his season ended with a shoulder injury as he’s got bags of potential. Still young with plenty of time on his side.
Josh Bowden – Due some luck after persistent injury problems, but when he’s on the field he’s got to offer more. Staying fit will help.
Aidan Burrell – The teenager got two minutes of action in the rag-tag win over Huddersfield. He’ll never forget them either. One to watch in the Reserves.
Danny Houghton – Hopefully spelling Houghton with new signing Joe Lovodua can bring the best out of him.
Joe Lovodua – Fijian hooker signed from South Sydney. Only 23-years-old and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in. Can’t play down the importance of getting the hooking spot right.
Jordan Johnstone – Effort is never in question and that’s appreciated but he’s got to offer more quality when he’s on the pitch.
Andre Savelio – Was superb in the first half of the season but he let himself down in the second. Was great to see him get continuity in appearance, now it’s about continuity in performance.
Manu Ma’u – Contrary to those alongside him, the Tongan Terminator got better and better as last season went on. Scenes if that continues next season.
Jordan Lane – The Lane Train had a superb year excelling in both the loose man and back row positions. He’s a good young player who’s only going to get better.
Joe Cator – His season was cruelly ended with injury and he’ll be playing catch up once his rehab is completed. No doubt he’ll return with a bang though.
What Hull still need
When Hull were linked with Nathan Peats it was like Christmas had come early, yet the club have opted for a different (and presumably cheaper) direction bringing in Lovodua. Hull need some flair at nine and he’s got to seriously challenge Houghton for the nine spot, having an impact there week in week out. No pressure then.
Owner Adam Pearson promised changes, and changes have been made, whilst others can count themselves fortunate by still being under contract. On that front, this is last chance saloon for a number of players, with sentiment hopefully a word now abolished from the Hull dictionary.
Another prop and back row to bolster the forward options would be nice, although there’s nothing wrong with promoting from within if the right player isn’t available.
Snippets of scary packs have already come out and it won’t be long before we hear the annual top four bollocks, but all we want from Hull in 2022 is to be honest.
The first half of 2021 was built on graft with moments of quality and right up until the end of June the results took care of themselves.
Some things were out of their control, but what happened in the final few months wasn’t good enough nor acceptable.
Redemption is the word and Hull must be a more fitter and entertaining outfit, channelling their energy into being that same team throughout the whole year.
For now a top six finish is both a realistic and satisfactory target, but what’s more important to us is how Hull play every week.
We want to see some finesse in an attack that knows how to unlock an opposition defence. Get that and the defence that started 2021, then everything else will fall into place.