Down Under Blog: Form vs Class

We’ve all heard that saying “Form is temporary, class is permanent”, and with our current form, you’ve got to hope that it rings true. For the second season in a row, we’ve put ourselves well and truly in the frame to win silverware, only for a mystifying run of terrible form to scupper our chances.

In my job I sell advertising, and have monthly budgets to hit as well as KPI’s, yearly targets and national targets that I’m judged on, it’s a pretty dog eat dog world is Aussie local radio. At first I    really struggled with the monthly rhythm of work hard, achieve (or fail), and then pick yourself up and do it all again next month. The first thing you see when you walk into our office is a big sign that says “One month a Rooster, the next a feather duster” such is the cyclical nature of our industry. It’s a sign that could well do to be hung over the home dressing room door at the KC stadium too.

On paper we have an incredibly talented core of players, with some average squad players too, possibly as a result of being one of only two clubs (Wakefield being the other) that actually took the RFL at its word and recruited on the basis that there would be a reserve league with every club running a team. This has caused a lot of squad disruption in our club as players have come and gone sometimes without their feet touching the ground. Look at who has left us before the end of the season – in first graders and fringe first graders Hadley, Litten, Miloudi, Talanoa, Langtree, Green and others have departed, and late signings Satae and Savelio have been added as well as Ellis coming back.

We’ve unearthed some gems in Naulogo, who let’s not forget was our fourth choice winger at the start of the season, and Jordan Lane and Connor Wynne even though it could be argued that all have been thrown in at the deep end earlier than is ideal in terms of their development as players.

So there’s one excuse – the disruption and changes in the squad I’d argue have been bigger than most teams. The other worrying thing is attitude. I don’t want to get all “in my day” about this,        but there does seem to be a level of entitlement these days that never seemed to be present even five years ago in players. Jake Connor has seemed to bear the brunt of most supporter’s frustrations as he is the most visible member of the squad in this respect. Jake wears his heart on his sleeve, and whether that’s manifested by laughing in the face of players he’s just skipped past to score a sublime try, or being petulant when we’re losing or he’s made a personal error, he needs to learn to keep this in check.

Radford has got form of getting rid of players who he thinks are derailing the team spirit and ethic – look at how quickly Watts was moved on after his send off – and he needs to address what’s between Connors ears quickly before it gets out of hand. I think most fans would agree, that although Watts was a liability with indiscipline and giving away silly penalties, he hardly ever gave less than 100% to the cause, his was more over excitement and getting carried away. I hope Connor learns from this last five or six games, as he’s an asset we need to harness, he’s so talented that it makes his current form all the more infuriating. Radford has also got in Albert Kelly’s head and got him playing the best football of his career too so let’s hope he can replicate that success with Jake.

That’s disruption and attitude then, the third thing we need to look at is coaching. Radford hasn’t become a bad coach overnight. It could of course be argued that he’s never been a great coach, and that the two cup wins although brilliant haven’t been a great return given the talent at his disposal too. I sit somewhere in the middle of these two opinions. The man needs help, and according to the more recent pronouncements from Adam Pearson, he could be about to get that help.

We desperately need a good attacking coach, as we’ve consistently failed to crack defences especially when we’re camped on an opposition teams’ line. We can score from deep, especially with the speed of Shaul, Ratu, Griffin etc. but when we have a set and a shallow attack, we invariably fail. Sneyd, Kelly, Connor, Shaul, and Houghton need an expert attack coach to enable them to find the key to unlock teams.

We should be scouring the rugby league world to find a halfback coach. In the NRL all the past great halves are involved in coaching, even if they do a couple of sessions a week to fit around media commitments. Both Johns brothers help out at various clubs, Alfie Langer coaches the Brisbane halves, Stacey Jones looks after the Warriors 6 and 7. Question is who would we get? Is it time to swallow our pride and ask Paul Cooke? Do we raid an Aussie club for an attack coach? Ex Hull FC player Matt Head is looking for a new gig at the end of this season, and he’s been     coaching at NSW cup level here a while, he’d be great too.

One thing is for certain, next year we need to kick on and finish in the top three. We’ll have a younger and more mobile pack, two world class back rowers in Ma’u and Jones, Mahe          returning, hopefully a fit Kelly too….. let’s hope we prove our late season form is just that, form. Class should win over form, 2020 is the year it must for Hull FC.

Finally, my thought for the day. If we’d have won both of our games at Craven Park this year, those bin dipping fools would already be typing the addresses for Batley and York into their stolen iPhones.

Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.

Rich – Twitter @pommyrich

This article first appeared in Up the Cream Issue 81. For our online shop, click here

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