There’s a familiar theme developing in the Hull FC squad for 2020 – there are alot of worthy players and combinations to choose from across each position.
The back row positions are no different and Lee Radford has yet another selection headache to deal with, albeit probably a welcome one. We take a look at who might get the nod for the trip to L**ds in just under a week’s time?
Manu Ma’u: Obviously. The Tongan Terminator has been pulling up trees in training and he continued that with a decent display at Batley. Just one look at the scary individual and you can quickly see why he had such a fierce reputation in the NRL. The signing is a serious sign of intent from the club.
Verdict: Ma’u has arrived to galvanise the back-row options and he will do exactly that. No better way to take it to the Whinos than by starting him on Sunday.
Josh Jones: Another top-draw signing fresh off the back of a Grand Final appearance with Salford and a Great Britain bow during the autumn. He’s the type of player who’s going to offer the grunt and hard yards which every club needs. Hard to put down in the tackle which should make for interesting viewing.
Verdict: Jones looks like the perfect foil to Ma’u so it would makes sense to start the pair together for the first game of the season.
Ligi Sao: By all accounts the former New Zealand Warrior appears to have hit the ground running in 2020. He’s started his Hull FC career playing predominately in the front-row during pre-season and whilst his versatility will be vital as the season unfolds, his most comfortable position is the loose forward role.
Verdict: Given Sao’s form so far and endorsements from his peers, you would think Radders will be looking to start the hard-running forward. Ligi seems to embody everything Radford wants in a player and he could be a handful at Headingley.
Josh Griffin: At 29 years of age, Josh still has plenty of rugby left in him but with the combination of options in the backs and natural physical development, the back-row could be his new home.
Verdict: It could be a few weeks of adjustment should Radders play Griffin in the pack but with his natural ability, he will develop. Should Griff miss out in the centre battle, he’s simply too good not to include and will be at least amongst the interchanges.
Jordan Lane: The sky really is the limit with regards to Jordan’s progression. Two years of regular involvement in the first-team have reaped rewards. Blessed with an incredibly strong work ethic, he will be heavily involved again throughout 2020 as he fights for a new deal.
Verdict: A lot depends on what positions Radford wants from his interchange, but if not straight away Lane will play a part throughout the season.
Joe Cator: Full of energy and enthusiasm Cator is another player who has caught the Gaffer’s eye in recent weeks. Cator probably has long-term ambitions of playing in the back row, but in the imminent future, he could find himself playing at hooker if Danny Houghton doesn’t recover from a wrist injury in time.
Verdict: It seems to be a straight battle between the new boys as Cator and Jordan Johnstone look to assume the hooking role for the trip to L**ds. Cator’s recent form in training and versatility might just give him the edge, though.