After four weeks on the road Hull FC will be hoping for some home comforts as they finally return to the KCOM Stadium to face Salford on Friday night.
And now without Albert Kelly, despite the maverick half back being named in the provisional squad on Wednesday, that task becomes just that little bit harder.
It’s against opposition that Hull lost to and poorly so earlier in the season, and reminds us, along with a frustrating defeat to Catalans, that this side can also be underwhelming as well as perform. Last time out at St Helens the Airlie Birds were absolutely sensational, but this season has been inconsistent to say the least, partially due to a mounting injury list that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Like Forest Gump infamously said, you never know what you’re gonna get, and with Hull FC, that’s scarily accurate.
To use the word injury is still frowned upon in some parts but name me another side in Super League that’s had to negotiate a Super League fixture with squad numbers 2-8 all missing. That’s all four three-quarters and both first choice halves out. Ludicrously mental and not a case of a couple or so injuries in each position which is much easier to handle.
Hull are doing it tough and despite a bizarre few weeks they are still within touching distance of the top four positions, and with five of the seven remaining regular season games at home, there’s a realisation that if their home form continues to be strong, then a tilt at Old Trafford is very reasonable indeed.
We are past the half way point in Super League now and the table has more than shaped up. Hull are still right amongst it, despite a season that so far hasn’t exactly been brilliant – but saying that this team hasn’t exactly justified a mountain of criticism either. Baring those two defeats at Catalans and at Salford, we can’t really have any complaints and we are in a position to compete, which given the current injury crisis, and I will use the word crisis, is pretty remarkable.
That’s testament to the squad depth Lee Radford has built, the determination and cohesion amongst it, and the ability to back its younger players, something which has seen three more debuts handed out to Academy players alone in 2018. With such effort and energy from the likes of Scott Taylor, Jake Connor, and Jamie Shaul, all of whom have been brilliant recently, Hull have the knowhow to adapt to different scenarios and they’ll have to do that if they want to get the measure of Salford this time out.
Salford have lost their past five games in this competition but they’re a good side on their day and Hull can’t afford to take them lightly. They won’t – you’d like to think a professional job will unfold, and if so one that will see a tenth league win of the season come to the fore.
I’ve used the term ‘must win’ a handful of times already in 2018 – and this is another occasion where two points are an absolute necessity. Come on you Ull.
The Up the Cream Fanzine has fond memories of Salford. It was the venue where seller Ian Tomlinson had his stag do a couple of years back. Remember the idiot in the pink tutu? Yep, that’s him. Fellow seller Sam Shepherd also passed out on the coach on the way home and I (Dan) was a classy drunk throughout the evening as always. We went on the Brownies Bus, and if you’re ever stuck for travel to a Hull FC away game, then look no further.
With Albert Kelly commendably returning early to fight for the Hull FC cause at St Helens, there was little surprise his hamstring seized up. It seemed like he would overcome it though and play against Salford, but it’s not to be.
Liam Harris was already named in the 19-man-squad, but this pretty much confirms the 21-year-old will definitely make his home debut for Hull FC. He was Cup tied last time out and deserves another chance to build on two promising displays in Black and White colours.
Also let’s give some encouragement to Jack Logan. The Cup game was his first appearance at centre in over two years and he was up against one of England’s best in Mark Percival. Hopefully Jack will keep his place and continue his comeback to cementing a regular first team place.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 6. Albert Kelly, 8. Scott Taylor, 12. Mark Minichiello, 14. Jake Connor, 15. Chris Green, 17. Danny Washbrook, 20. Brad Fash, 23. Mickey Paea, 24. Jack Logan, 26. Jordan Lane, 27. Jack Downs, 28. Hakim Miloudi, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 33. Joe Westerman, 35. Liam Harris.
Salford Squad: 2. Greg Johnson, 3. Kris Welham, 4. Junior S’au, 6. Robert Lui, 7. Jack Littlejohn, 8. Craig Kopczak, 9. Logan Tomkins, 10. George Griffin, 11. Josh Jones, 13. Mark Flanagan, 14. Lama Tasi, 17. Tyrone McCarthy, 18. Ben Nakubuwai, 19. Josh Wood, 22. Derrell Olpherts, 23. Lee Mossop, 24. Jake Bibby, 26. Daniel Murray, 28. Jake Shorrocks.
Last Five Meetings
2018: Salford 24 Hull 8
2017: Hull 32 Salford 18
2017: Salford 10 Hull 34
2017: Hull 18 Salford 54
2016: Salford 20 Hull 28
Mentally it’s a test for Hull with what happened in the Cup only five days prior, but if they want to achieve a top four place in Super League, then it’s a game they simply have to win. Hull by 8.