After weeks and weeks of countdowns it’s finally here, a new Hull FC assault on Super League, again with a blockbuster start as the side travel to Headingley to take on Leeds.
A venue that finally saw an away win for Hull FC last season, imagine the scenes at full-time and the faces on the Hetherington’s when we turn them over for the fourth occasion running. Confident. Yeah. Because this team has to deliver. It’s got an abundance of power, pace, and most importantly quality amongst it. It will meet the expectation, because it contains the likes of Manu Ma’u, Josh Jones, Marc Sneyd, and so on. We’re in for a good year, the proper tough bit will be that leg in September where it usually falls apart. That’s the challenge to overcome. But this is the present, and with the Derby following Headingley, a start similar to the one in 2016 will get the whole place bouncing. Limbs. Potential limbs.
We can’t wait for 2020 to get underway.
The Tongan Terminator
Sonny Bill this, Sonny Bill that, yet chilling on the banks of the Humber Estuary is Manu Ma’u, the Tongan Terminator, the star signing of Hull FC who is going to be an absolute revolution this year. He’s quite literally the scariest player on the planet. That stare. Yikes. Run away. If you watched Parramatta last season you know what he’ll bring. 100% in literally everything. He’ll run the ball in like water crashing on rock. He’ll hit with the force of a freight train. It’s a player from the NRL who was at the peak of his powers just a few months ago. It’s an unbelievable signing. A proper statement of intent. Quiver and fear.
Lee Radford has more options with this squad than times Brian McDermott moans about the salary cap. There’s conundrums on the wing, in the centres, and in the pack to who will start where and who will come on from the interchange. That competition can only be a good thing as the year endures. They have to perform, whether they’re a newbie in Jordan Johnstone or a treble award winner in Josh Griffin, otherwise the next man in the queue comes in. Players will be kept on their toes and the way Hull could play, it’s all the more exciting. Offloads. Second phase. Power. Craft. We should be a much better attacking team in 2020 and hopefully, whilst there’s no sigh at five drives and a kick when it’s necessary, we’ll see a few glimpses of it here.
Hull FC’s pack has significantly improved in 2020. Unlike the back line it picks itself too. The two back rowers Manu Ma’u and Josh Jones are massive, whereas Chris Satae and Ligi Sao bring steel to the middle. That takes pressure off Scott Taylor too. Then there’s Andre Savelio, Josh Bowden, Jordan Lane, and the old war-horse himself. Hull should find a lot of joy down the middle this year and that will start at Headingley.
The Hull FC legend is about to start his fourth decade as a professional rugby league player since debuting with Wakefield in 1998. Remarkable. Ellis answered the rallying call last season to come out of retirement and there’s plenty of life in the old war horse yet. He won’t play every game this year, but the ones he does participate in he will make his presence felt. It’ll be a nice touch of irony if he was to play a part in a win here, having come off injured ahead of what was supposed to be his Hull debut in the 2013 opener at Headingley.
It can take a while for a side, particularly a new side, to click into gear, and we’ve seen occasions in the past where we don’t see the best of Hull FC until the summer months. Perhaps a sense of realism should be added here too. It’s February. It’s cold. It’ll be the second game of a double-header on a pitch that’s far from perfect. It will tear up. It’ll be muddy. It’ll slow things down. There’s no Danny Houghton either and he’s massive to what Hull are about. But there are no excuses this year. This is no Craig Sandercock round of bingo. There’s a lot of optimism around and a strong start sets the pace, plus it’ll get the lads bouncing off each other. When that happens, you can only foresee good things. It might be scrappy, but as long as the two points are coming home with us who cares?
It will take a special effort even from Richard Agar’s standards for Leeds to be as shite as they were last year. At one point it looked like they were relegation candidates but they hit a purple patch towards the end of the year and survived. They’ve done some fair recruitment since then and welcome back some long-term absentees into their squad. They’ll fancy their chances. The bastards always turn up against us, although Hull have won the last three games between the two sides. A change of the guard? Hopefully. They are only one up from our nearest and dearest after all.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 10. Chris Satae, 11. Josh Jones, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Ligi Sao, 14. Albert Kelly, 16. Jordan Johnstone, 20. Brad Fash, 21. Jordan Lane, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Andre Savelio, 24. Mahe Fonua, 29. Gareth Ellis, 33. Ratu Naulago.
Leeds Squad: 1. Jack Walker, 3. Harry Newman, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Ash Handley, 6. Robert Lui, 7. Luke Gale, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Alex Mellor, 12. Rhyse Martin, 13. Stevie Ward, 14. Brad Dwyer, 15. Liam Sutcliffe, 16. Richie Myler, 17. Adam Cuthbertson, 19. Mikolaj Oledzki, 21. Rhys Evans, 22. Cameron Smith, 23. Callum Mclelland, 24. Luke Briscoe, 25. James Donaldson, 28. Tom Holroyd.
Both Albert Kelly and Mahe Fonua played for the Reserves on Saturday, meaning Jake Connor will get the half back gig alongside Marc Sneyd. Apparently Jake the Snake has been different level since he went into training. We’ve got to see it on the pitch now.
Last Five Meetings
2019: Leeds 24 Hull 26
2019: Hull 34 Leeds 10
2018: Hull 19 Leeds 18
2018: Leeds 20 Hull 16
2017: Leeds 18 Hull 16
Super League Era – Played 53 – Hull wins 14 – Draws 1 – Leeds wins – 38
Marc Sneyd needs just one goal to move ahead of Paul Eastwood into ninth place on the all-time Hull FC goal charts. He’s also just one drop-goal behind Gary Pearce’s all-time record.
Hull by ten points.