It’s been a season of success built upon a team effort from Hull FC in 2017 but that’s not to say there haven’t been some stand-out individual performances.
Done with great difficulty, UTC have attempted to narrow it down to five players who have shone brightly throughout the year.
1.) Ole Ole Ole Ole Albert Kelly
It had to be him surely? The freebie who was emancipated from the shackles of East Hull has been mesmeric at times for Hull FC in 2017. A Man of Steel nominee, second top try-scorer with 20 meat pies in just 29 games for the Black and Whites and the creator of so many chances for his teammates has shown just how vital Albey is to the squad.
And it’s not just the creative aspect of Hull’s game that Kelly contributes to, his defensive game is huge as well. I’d go as far as to say he’s the best tackling half-back in Super League right now. His defensive contribution has been massive this year and he belies his smaller stature with some colossal hits. Perhaps coach Lee Radford will look to protect him a little more in 2018 so that he doesn’t tire as games unfold. The scary thing is at 26 years old, he’s still got his best years to come as he matures into a top player in the competition.
2.) Sika and Destroy: The might of Manu
Us folk at UTC love to praise the underdog and although to look at Sika you can’t miss him, his work on the pitch could easily go under the radar. He does the ugly stuff brilliantly combined with inherent aggression and brute strength. Opponents and even teammates are fearful of him and when you’ve got a player of that ilk in your ranks, there’s always an opportunity to win the arm-wrestle on the field.
We’ve seen some neat attacking play too from Manu, who’s partial to an offload and spotting gaps in defence. Despite playing through the pain barrier at times, his effort has been unaffected and richly deserves a mention.
3.) Red cards: Watts it all about?
Neutrals might be slightly surprised by this inclusion but any Hull fan will tell you how vital Liam Watts has been in the pack for Hull FC this season. Despite red cards against Castleford, Catalans and Wigan this season, this has been an indictment of poor officiating standards more than anything else, with the recent Wigan decision being the most obvious example.
On the pitch the ferocious forward has been irrepressible at times. The trademark offload, ball distribution, raw strength and neat footwork on attack make him a difficult prospect to tackle. England selection must surely be in the reckoning as there are very few forwards with such a repertoire as Big Jud.
4.) Bowden is the next big thing
We all wondered a couple of years ago, in a similar manner to Chris Green, whether Josh Bowden was able to take his career to the next level.
Thankfully Radders remained faithful to his youngsters, and whilst staving off Wigan interest, Bowden has matured into a genuine force in the game. He has a thunderous leg drive and ability to smash you in defence. England selection is probably unlikely this time around but a strong season in 2018 could lead to an eventual call-up. Yes, he’s that good.
5.) The magic of Mahe will be missed:
Despite an inconsistent final season at the KCOM Stadium, Mahe finished with a flourish with a series of impressive displays. Weighing in with 16 tries in 30 appearances, you could never fault Fonua on his effort even during difficult games such as the Challenge Cup Semi-final. On the flipside, he can make a massive impact during games such as the Challenge Cup Finals of 2016 & 2017. He’s a gamechanger and every successful club needs them in their ranks. Blessed with an aggressive defensive game and the metre-making abilities of a forward, he’ll be sorely missed in 2018 and Bureta Faraimo has big boots to fill.