Hull FC were slick with ball in hand during their third and final pre-season game, earning a comfortable 38-6 victory over Batley.
1.. The Tongan Terminator
Manu Ma’u has spent his entire career at Parramatta until this year. He’s only known the Parramatta way and he’s only been coached professionally by Brad Arthur. This is his first change of scenery. A new country, a new team, a new culture, not that you’d have thought it. That’s class for you.
Get excited. This is a genuinely world-class signing. Manu Ma’u is blockbuster. Us NRL geeks will tell you how good he was playing in the shiny new Bankwest Stadium in 2019. He was nominated for Daly M back rower of the year. He was bang in form, some said the best form of his career. He’s an intimidating presence. Perhaps the scariest man on the planet. And he’s really, really good at rugby league.
It says a lot about Lee Radford, James Clark, and everyone behind the scenes at Hull FC that Manu Ma’u is now a Hull FC player. It’s a signing of intent.
Ma’u’s debut at Batley echoed class. His first carry. Boom. Sit down. That didn’t stop. Such physicality continued. He ran hard and hit hard all afternoon. He broke out of tackles, he offloaded, and he hit like a maniac. He played for around 50-55 minutes, walking off after an abundance of selfies with Hull FC fans. The Tongan Terminator. A horrible bastard on the field but a gentleman off it. He seems a class act.
2.. Josh Jones
It’s easy to get lost with Manu Ma’u but the signing of Josh Jones was also a hefty bit of business from Hull FC. Jones is a current international and Super League Dream Team member who’s aqusition has also brought with it a lot of anticipation. It’s a signing that was on the radar for a while. It’s another top quality addition.
Jones showed a lot of promise on the left edge and linked up well with Marc Sneyd and Josh Griffin. He’s played together with Griffin at Salford before. He had a great workload about him too and is just solid in everything he does. It didn’t go unnoticed.
3.. Half Backs
This week the half back gig was given to the blokes with six and seven on their backs, no not Albert Kelly this year, but Jake Connor and Marc Sneyd.
Opinions are like arseholes, but for us Connor has played his best rugby at Hull FC in the centre position. It seems his future lies at six though and to be fair he was good here. He has to be if he wants to play in his favoured spot every week, and he’ll have to do that against Super League opposition round by round. One step at a time though. The Snake was heavily involved and some of his passing was excellent. He’s a talent, but we all know that.
Kelly meanwhile played the game at fullback with Jamie Shaul absent. Kelly is one of the best in the competition. His running game is always a threat and arguably enhanced here. Shaul is a Radford favourite too. He won’t sit out every week. How this is all negotiated during the season will certainly be interesting and throws conundrums into the back line as well. Here we go again.
One thing that was below par with Hull FC in 2019 was the forward pack. That won’t be the case this year though.
This side has so much power in the forwards. Ligi Sao, Scott Taylor, Chris Satae, Andre Savelio and Gareth Ellis are all class. They can all bust tackles and offload too. That’ll be a key feature for this side this season. They’ll be such a danger through the middle. The signs were encouraging here, as they were from Sao and co against London last week. As a result Joe Cator made a couple of half breaks and with further support tries should come in abundance.
Hull FC won’t get bullied this year, that’s for sure. This account was a solid showing, both with and without the ball. Promising stuff.
5.. Bureta Faraimo
The New Zealand-born, American representing island hopper has a habit of being left three on one defensively and then copping all the blame for it (we are a weird bunch at times), but he’s been pretty much faultless in the three pre-season games this year.
Faraimo wasn’t in our XIII to start the season, but you’d be a brave man to leave him out now. He’s been superb. Yeah they’re only friendlies but you look for players to impress and the winger has been one. He’s been an absolute metre machine. His power is ridiculous and he got two well-deserved tries at Batley.
It’ll be very surprising now if he isn’t in the team for round one at Headingley. Bet it rains.
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