It was a performance of real character by Hull FC in their opening round victory against Wakefield yesterday and head coach Lee Radford has heaped the praise on his new additions.
For a long period, it looked like the black and whites would fall to a defeat at Belle Vue, but the introduction of debutant Jake Connor proved to be a timely change in a game of fine margins.
“Jamie Shaul’s hamstring started tightening up a little bit so I threw Jake on to get his first taste of competitive rugby in a Hull shirt,” Radford explained.
“It wasn’t a tactical decision to bring him on for Shauly, he would have probably played elsewhere otherwise but to be thrown out there and play the way he did was really good.”
Another player making his FC debut was Albert Kelly who controversially joined the Airlie Birds in the off-season from city rivals Hull Kingston Rovers.
The conditions weren’t suited to that of a ball-playing half-back, but Hull’s new number six stood up in defence to a barrage of Wakefield pressure, something that didn’t go unnoticed by his coach.
“Looking at the Salford game and looking at today, I think it’s quite evident that opposition teams are going to send some traffic down that edge at Albert,” said Radford.
“I think it’s a real compliment because they are trying to take some sting out of him for when he does get the ball.
“He had a couple of run opportunities today and looked really dangerous. There was a couple of really smart kicks towards the back end too and he really bought into what we were trying to achieve.”
It wasn’t just the new signings that Radford was pleased with though as he paid credit to the whole 17 players, giving a special mention for Fetuli Talanoa after his last gasp try-saver.
“It’s no mean feat for Fetuli to come up with that play in the 79th minute of the game. To come from the other side of the field and save the game for us after the way he run the ball in all game was special.
“Those are the ones that are highlighted but there are probably five or six times throughout the game where he’s ready to do the same but not required to, so it’s a real big pat on the back for Fetuli.”