When Hull FC supremo Adam Pearson announced the ‘Club Hull’ ethos following the appointment of Lee Radford 12 months ago, it was certainly met with some skepticism in this camp. The idea of a Super League club pulling together for the good of the community and embracing the ideals of the city is great on paper, but as we have seen in the past campaign, probably means very little in reality.
Unfortunately, that ‘Club Hull’ idea is likely to be challenged even more following the events which are unfolding at the KC Stadium as we speak.
Ben Crooks, 2013’s best young player in Super League, has been allowed to depart for pastures new, a career in the NRL. Admittedly the 21-year-old has struggled to repeat his form of last year, but has he been given a fair crack of the whip?
In his place, if the grapevine is to be believed, is NRL legend and duel code international Timana Tahu, a player of undoubted distinction, but approaching his 34th birthday, not a player with many more scorching runs or big hits left in his game.
Radford refused to confirm or deny the rumours in the Hull Daily Mail, but Tahu certainly fits the bill as the FC coach looks to bring in yet another centre-cum-second-row.
“What I’ll say is I am looking for another Setaimata Sa type of player who can play centre and second row for us,” Radford said whilst at the same time remaining coy about the true identity of the player in question.
Radford’s recruitment for 2015 is certainly following a trend, the acquisition of Leon Pryce, alongside the signing of Sa and other physical units suggests he may be attempting to recreate something of that all-conquering Bradford side of the early 2000s.
It remains disappointing however that the option of bringing in Tahu came about due to the departure of Crooks, a player who if he gets his physique and, maybe more importantly, his head right, could go on to be one of the great English backs, and yet another case of ‘the one who got away’ for long suffering FC fans.
Hull FC’s eternal search for consistency and stability in the scrum-half and stand-off roles at the KC Stadium has long been rather large bone of contention for the long suffering Old Faithful.
Not since the home-grown pairing of Richard Horne and Paul Cooke have we seen a partnership with the ability and promise worthy of the black-and-white shirt. Several high profile names have been and gone since Cooke tore up his imaginary contact and moved east, and with Adam Pearson recently hinting that the club may be looking to strengthen in that area, the hunt for another creative genius is on.
Current incumbents Jacob Miller and Jordan Rankin arrived on English shores with plenty of promise.
Miller, a former Australian schoolboy, was initially touted as an option when Hull began their fruitless chase of Scott Prince in the Autumn of 2012, he eventually turned up mid-way through 2013 as a replacement for Brett Seymour, and whilst he has shown occasional glimpses of brilliance, he is still searching for that level of consistency which would make him a first team regular.
Rankin, though listed as a full-back on Hull’s official website, has been earmarked as a stand-off and the former Aussie schoolboy captain has played most of his rugby in the black and white jersey in that position. A rangy and elusive runner, Rankin, like Miller, has yet to show the leadership and organisational skills, that are required from such a key role.
So who do we look to? The forums and twitter feeds are, as ever, alive with speculation as to who might be the answer for the Black and Whites, we at inanykindofweather.com take a look at some of the candidates.
Hull’s pursuit of Scott Prince in 2012 showed that they are not afraid to target some of the bigger names in the NRL, and if they pulled off the signing of Campese it would easily be regarded as one of their bigger signings in the Super League era. The Canberra skipper has been dogged by injuries in the past few years but has been fairly consistent in 2014 and would be a major coup for the Airlie Birds.
A former winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy, Thomas certainly knows his way around Super League following an eight year spell in England with London Broncos and Wigan. Current struggles with injury have hindered his time on the pitch with the New Zealand Warriors, but at 28 there is still plenty more rugby in him. With his father’s legendary stint at the Boulevard in the 80’s Thomas was always going to be linked with Hull, but can FC prise him away from a lucrative contact in Auckland?
If Hull had had space on their salary cap in 2008 they may have already found the answer to their half-back problems. Unfortunately Hull’s loss was KR’s gain and Dobson went on to become a modern legend for Rovers making over 150 appearances in an impressive five year spell. Currently warming the bench at Newcastle Knights, it is no surprise to see a clutch of Super League clubs coveting his signature for 2014.
Currently covering for the injured Cooper Cronk at the Storm, Roberts was strongly linked with a move to Hull in the Autumn following some impressive displays for Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup. Out of contract with Melbourne at the end of the current campaign, the 28-year-old may fancy his chances of more regular rugby league with a Super League contract.
No stranger to Super League, following spells with Crusaders and London, the 30-year-old was another who was linked with a move to Hull last autumn. Has bags of experience in the NRL and is currently a back-up option for St George. Out of contract for 2015 but would he fancy another move back to England?
One of the real stars of the NRL, has won caps for Australia and seen State of Origin duty with New South Wales. At 32, he is coming towards the end of his career, but might just fancy one last payday in Super League. Out of contract at the end of 2014, the Wests Tigers man will have a big decision to make on where his future lies.
Yet to sign a contract with Wigan, the former Hull KR man has been touted for a move back to the NRL. But money talks and with Hull aiming for quality over quantity for 2015, could a shock move for last year’s Harry Sunderland Trophy winner be on the cards? [ED: Obviously not a target now, following the announcement he is off back to Oz!!!]
Tim Smith/Marc Sneyd
Salford’s flexible salary cap should expect them to secure further options in the half-back department which is likely to mean that there will be players surplus to requirements at the AJ Bell Stadium. Smith’s game has suffered playing alongside the unpredictable Rangi Chase, whilst Marc Sneyd has been an impressive figure in Castleford’s surprise package of 2014.
Leigh coach Paul Rowley recently issued a hands-off warning to prospective Super League suitors and Salford have long been linked with a move for a player who admits that he would one day like to play for his boyhood club. But if Salford avert their gaze to bigger fish, could one of the Championship’s hottest young prospects be a target for Hull?