Two games have gone in Super League and Hull FC are still awaiting that much-needed first win.
So much emphasis has been placed on the losing sequence but unfortunately in what is ultimately a results game, teams are judged by their successes on the pitch. Let’s be under no illusions; trying to gain that first win on Sunday is going to be an incredibly difficult task against a strong Pies side – a team no doubt on the backlash after last week’s reality check against Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge.
Nonetheless, us chipper folk at UTC like to remain eternally hopeful. Here are a few comments we left on the Black & Whites’ report card ahead of the Pie Dome clash.
The strike players are back
As frustrating as the defeat to Cas was a fortnight ago, there were many positives to take from the game. The biggest of all was watching Hull FC’s most dangerous players display moments of genuine quality. MOTM and speedster Jamie Shaul was in irresistible form and the Tigers really struggled to contain him at times. Jake Connor wasn’t far behind either, as he had a hand in several of the home side’s most dangerous attacking plays. While he’s on the field, good things will inevitably happen (we just have to keep him on there). Joe Westerman was the other individual who really stood out. He runs incredible lines at times and that’s a testament to the player’s intelligence with and without the ball. Scary to think he’s not even back up to full fitness yet. Add the fact that Albert Kelly and his nuggets aren’t back on the field just yet either and our best is still to come.
Arise Sir Gareth Ellis
You just can’t keep a good Captain down can you? Most Airlie Birds were genuinely disappointed to see such a strong leader depart the field in 2017. Thankfully, Gaz has remained a part of the club’s setup off the field and handily remained in good shape too. Last weekend’s inclusion in the reserve squad raised eyebrows but Ellis put in a strong showing as his side ran out winners against the Trinity. Given the casualty-list in the pack, it’s a decision that makes sense. Will he offer something the squad doesn’t already have? Most definitely.
Opportunity knocks for Naulago
This has been a story that’s ran for some time but we think it could be one of Lee Radford’s smarter moves. Games against Donny, Wakefield and St Helens during pre-season showed that Ratu is a natural speedster and finisher, albeit still a raw talent. Given Matty Dawson-Jones’ unfortunate season-ending injury and Fetuli Talanoa’s ongoing fitness issues, it could well be a sensible move. We think Radders always planned to get the imposing winger signed up permanently, although there were some musical-chairs that had to be played before he could join. His inclusion in Sunday’s squad is both exciting and intriguing. In a game most pundits wouldn’t expect Hull FC to win, perhaps throwing him into this match is a canny move.
Individuals need to step-up
We all know that a team wins and loses together but for all the cavalier spirit in the world, if individuals continue to drop the ball so to speak, fingers may well be pointed at them. As Hull FC continue to chronically struggle numbers-wise in the pack, players such as Mickey Paea and Jordan Thompson need to prove their worth or face being sidelined when the likes of Chris Green and Josh Bowden return to full fitness. Of course they are not alone, other names such as Hakim Miloudi spring to mind too. Nevertheless, if these players raise their game, it could make all the difference between winning or losing. For the ones that play, now is their time to stand-out and shine.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 7. Marc Sneyd, 9. Danny Houghton, 11. Dean Hadley, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Jake Connor, 16. Jordan Thompson, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jordan Lane, 23. Mickey Paea, 25. Danny Langtree, 28. Jez Litten, 33. Ratu Naulago, 34. Gareth Ellis.
Wigan Squad: 1. Morgan Escare, 2. Tom Davies, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4. Oliver Gildart, 6. George Williams, 7. Thomas Leulaui, 9. Sam Powell, 10. Ben Flower, 11. Joe Greenwood, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. Romain Navarrete, 15. Willie Isa, 16. Gabe Hamlin, 17. Liam Marshall, 19. Taulima Tautai, 20. Zak Hardaker, 22. Joe Bullock, 36. Liam Bryne, 37. Jarrod Sammut.
Hull are still without Josh Bowden, Chris Green, Lewis Bienek, Albert Kelly, Fetuli Talanoa and Liam Harris to injury. With Scott Taylor also suspended, the decision for Gareth Ellis to come out of retirement makes sense, despite what clueless outsiders have typed on their keyboards. Ratu Naulago too will make his debut on the wing. For Wigan, Liam Farrell, Joe Burgess and Tony Clubb are all missing.
Meanwhile Brad Fash, Danny Washbrook and Hakim Miloudi are all playing on dual-reg at Doncaster.
Last Five Meetings
2018: Wigan 14 Hull 12
2018: Hull 10 Wigan 14
2018: Wigan 24 Hull 10 (Wollongong)
2017: Hull 22 Wigan 30
2017: Hull 18 Wigan 14 (Wembley)
Gareth Ellis – The pack is Hull’s weakest area right now and there’s a lot of pressure placed on his shoulders.
Callum – Wigan by 10
Dan – Wigan to edge it by 6. Hope I’m wrong.
Jonny – Hull by 14
Check out the UTC Podcast Preview below..