Autumn has arrived after a season of success, the internationals are on the horizon and fans go into hibernation as clubs regroup ahead of pre-season training in November. We’ve discussed on numerous occasions how successful 2016 has been for Hull FC. Silverware has been delivered along with a change in mentality. All those associated with the Black & Whites can reflect with a smile on their face. However like a great actor or musician, FC cannot afford to rest on their laurels; it’s time to build on that first-album success. Lee Radford knows more than anybody what is required for 2017, he was visibly disappointed at the post-cup slump and will look to build upon firm foundations. So for all the glowing reviews and accolades that 2016 has brought, what can Hull look to improve on for next season?
A full 80 minutes of magic:
Let’s be under no illusions, FC at the height of their form were unplayable. The ferocity, physicality and waves of attacking play were simply sublime. However all too often, these plays would occur in short, devastating bursts. As clinical as it was, we need to see a more consistent display from the Black & Whites. Notorious for slow-starts, FC would often give themselves work to do as they ultimately pegged back opposition. We know the attacking game is in FC’s armoury, it just needs to be embodied more consistently within an incredibly resilient defence. Radders will be keen to implement this with a degree of composure sometimes lost in the heat of the moment.
A dynamic half-back pairing:
Whether it be Carlos Tuimavave & Marc Sneyd playing together or not, we need to see a step-up in the halves for FC this season if they’re going to realise their full potential. For the majority of the season, Sneyd was able to dictate play on his own without having a regular half-back partner. However like others in the squad, we noticed a degree of fatigue creep into his game. I guess even athletes are human but it did show the vulnerabilities in his game as he struggled to take on the line, dictate play and maintain his usually excellent kicking game. It demonstrated the necessity for another pivot, somebody who he can link up with and offer versatility in our attack. The jury is still out on Tuimavave in the halves, I think we saw flashes of what he’s capable against Warrington & Wigan in the Super 8s with superb metre-making. Nevertheless, it looks likely somebody else may be coming in and that along with Carlos, Jake Connor and Jordan Abdull would offer a wealth of potential combinations.
Time for the Tank to shine:
Frank Pritchard has certainly been a big presence in the FC camp. Always prepared to pitch in, we’ve seen flashes of what he can do. Radders, rightly or wrongly has chose to play Frank as a front-rower. While he has the physical presence, he is also blessed with incredibly swift handling for a big man which has been showcased on fleeting occasions on the edges. If he continues playing as a Prop, we need to see more driving runs that he’s capable of from deeper positions. Hopefully with a strong pre-season and renewed fitness levels, he’ll be able to show this with more minutes on the field. If not, Bowden, Greeny, Hadley & Co. will be knocking on the door for a jersey.
A new speedster in the ranks:
As Adam Pearson whipped up more speculation regarding signings, the mention of a new outside back poses questions. Personally, I think it would be great to see a winger with raw pace in the ranks. With no news on the futures of Curtis Naughton and Callum Lancaster as of yet, who would be ideal candidates, it looks increasingly likely a new face will be arriving through the door. As much as I love Steve Michaels’ approach to the game, he will need competition and cover for injuries too. It’s always good to have players who offer different attributes and with Talanoa’s physical presence and Stevie’s work-ethic, a young winger with pace to burn would be ideal.
As Yeamo goes into deserved retirement, the opportunity has opened up for Josh Griffin to stake his claim in the vacated position. I won’t lie, the thought of Fonua & Griffin linking up really tickles the purist tastebuds. Two strong, explosive, slick handlers with the ball could easily rack up the points. It’s an area the side perhaps lacked cutting edge in compared to rivals. If Griffin can maintain Yeamo’s excellent defensive efforts, along with the devastating plays that dismantled the Robins in the Million Pound Game, then the back-line could be an intimidating prospect to Super League come February.