So with Danny Houghton being out for the foreseeable future with a calf tear, there’s a hooking vacancy at Hull FC – with both Dean Hadley and Jez Litten being touted for the role.
One would expect Hadley to get the front nod, and if I was a betting man, that would be my bet to who Lee Radford goes with, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a role to play for the exciting teenager.
Litten, a former England Academy player, played three times in Super League last year, and looked fairly decent in all of those fixtures. Now in 2018, he’s a year wiser, having spent twelve months embedding himself into the Radford regime. For me, it’s an absolute no-brainer for Litten to be included, but I don’t call the shots.
Litten needs no introductions, but I’ll go ahead anyway. He’s fast, direct and plays what he sees. He’s got a decent kicking game too and has packed on some size from the small lad that came through the 16s and 19s a few years ago.
But the last point alone will be the key cog in the wheel to Radford’s decision. Can Jez handle himself defensively in the middle? But then again what’s to stop us moving him a little wider in the defensive line? There’s options, and Jez at least should be spelled off the bench, like he was last year, if Hadley is the preferred option.
I like Hadley. What you get with him is dependency. He never lets you down. Hooker is not his best position, but he’ll do a job there, but admittingly not at the level of a natural to the role. That’s why my argument is swayed towards the youngster, especially given the damage the former can do in the middle or in the back row.
Hull FC last season had absolutely no hesitation to throw in the likes of Brad Fash, Masimbaashe Matongo and Jansin Turgut when required. We’ve got some quality youngsters, so when the opportunity arises, blood them. We’re two rounds in. Super League titles aren’t won in February. For me, it’s a perfect chance to get some top flight minutes and experience under Jez’s belt.
The smart option would probably be to do that in spells. Play Litten off the interchange, with Hadley coming into a forward role. That’s the luxury of the latter – Grafters United’s biggest advocate, he can do you eighty minutes no problem.
Litten meanwhile can cause some damage to the opposition with his pace, especially when they start to fatigue. He’s got a big future in the game, and a run in the side now would do his esteem and confidence the world of good.
It’s a squad game after all and Hull FC utilised that full squad last season. The youngsters, in this case Jez Litten, alongside the more senior players, can step up, and keep us in check for the top four. I’ve absolutely no doubt about that.
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