Adam Ant jokes aside, this is a conundrum that could run and run for Lee Radford as he seeks to discover his ultimate half-back pairing. It was mentioned countless times about the lack of spark in the halves last season and an over reliance on the kicking-game of Marc Sneyd. So, to combat an obvious weakness in a strong squad, Radders went out and bought some talented competition. Let’s take a look at the candidates and evaluate their credentials as they seek to partner Sneyd in the halves come February:
Albert Kelly: Recruited after an ignominious departure from the dark-side, you could suggest that Kelly is the most obvious choice. A calculated risk but equally capable of producing the X-factor, something FC desperately needed during the latter stages of 2016. While Sneyd has a superb kicking game, Albert could provide a lethal running game and crucially an extra dimension. Splitting the halves would demonstrate a degree of fluidity and unpredictability that Hull need to add to their attack. My thoughts are this; if it’s good it’ll be electric and if it isn’t, then things could turn sour incredibly quickly. Nevertheless, I feel Kelly has shown enough flashes of brilliance to warrant an opportunity. Given the market, his age and wages, would you get a better alternative elsewhere?
Jake Connor: Keen to hit the ground running after his protracted transfer from the Giants, Jake is my selection to grab the position if Kelly finds himself on the sidelines. Connor demonstrated just what he can do as he orchestrated a Giants victory last season against a red-hot Hull side. A vocal presence, with incredibly slick ball distribution and movement, he has all attributes to push on. While he offers cover at Fullback and Centre, I sense Shaul, Fonua and fellow newcomer Josh Griffin could all be difficult to dislodge once they get into their stride. To see Jake’s full potential, I feel we need to see him in the middle, dictating play. On a sidenote, could a young English pairing be rivaled if Connor and Sneyyyyd were to click into gear?
Carlos Tuimavave: Probably the outside bet of the three first-teamers despite being a regular starter in the latter-stages of least season. This is a crucial time for Carlos in the sense that he must consolidate a regular starting berth. Having arrived primarily as a centre converting to stand-off, I fear he will struggle to break through in both positions. While there’s no doubting Carlos’ intelligence with ball in hand and brute strength, some would question whether he has the dynamism to be a pivot. I sense he will face a battle to overcome his rivals for the position. As Jordan Abdull heads out on loan, it has been suggested the Kiwi could make a smooth transition to Loose-forward. With an ability to make metres and intelligence with the ball in hand, he fits the criteria and it would certainly temper the loss of Frank Pritchard.
A long, hard pre-season awaits for the squad and ultimately being the hard-taskmaster that he is, it will be the player who goes the extra mile in training who will get the nod come February from Radders. Compared to previous seasons, rather than going into seasons with limited choices, the Recruitment team have been decisive and bought players with proven potential. Not only does it offer alternatives but it keeps competition healthy, hopefully bringing the best out in the players and allowing change if certain combinations falter. With half an eye on the future, it’s comforting to know Jordan Abdull will continue his development in East Hull while the likes of Jack Wray and Harry Tyson-Wilson will hope to continue their development in the Under 23s. The future’s bright, there’s no lacking in creativity but ultimately it’s Radford’s job to unleash it through the most effective selections.