Airlie Birds Ins and Outs

George Burgess elbow

We had a bit of a conflab at towers and one subject that reared its head a few times, was the amount of players who are out of contract at Hull FC at the end of this season, and who might replace some of those players, then yours truly was delegated the job of writing something about it.

Last year, after thumping defeats at Wakefield Trinity and Warrington Wolves, Airlie Birds owner Adam Pearson promised sweeping changes to squad personnel, something which many Hull FC fans have said hasn’t taken place, leaving some annoyed at the lack of ‘Significant Signings’ for this year.

But with no fewer than 16 players in the last year of their current deals, the next 12 months is likely to be a time of seeing many players shown the door, with new blood to replace them, there honestly could be a case made for fitting a revolving door at the Hull FC offices at the KCOM Stadium!

Of the players in the last year of their current deals, and I must stress this is by no means definitive, it seems likely that Mark Minichiello, Mickey Paea and possibly Sika Manu are likely to retire, although Manu is still open to possibly staying for another year.

The most upsetting situation is seemingly that of popular winger Fetuli Talanoa, with the club offering no real updates on what is happening with him, he is conspicuous by his absence from several photos that have been shared on the club’s social media platforms.

Rest assured that last year’s top try-scorer for the club Bureta Faraimo is very likely to be offered a new extended deal, possibly longer than the two years he originally signed for, there is also a whisper that flying pig Tom Lineham could be on his way back, having possibly turned down a new deal at Warrington, although that is so far unconfirmed, that could be a case of ‘Watch This Space’ over the coming weeks.

The possible headline act is the potential replacement for Paea, with a suggestion that South Sydney and England prop George Burgess, who is currently in the last year of his Rabbitohs contract, could be the man to provide the much needed punch for the Black & Whites pack. Again it is only a rumour, possibly on the back of the rumour that Hull would sign his older brother Sam last year, but with his South Sydney contract up for renewal, and him missing the early part of the new NRL season, due to his ban for eye-gouging in the England v New Zealand 2nd test victory, he may find it a struggle to get back in the team to earn a new deal down under.

One possible departure, who isn’t in the last year of his current deal, could be Albert Kelly, with the Airlie Birds possibly ready to cut their losses due to his regular injury problems over the last two years, which he has also started 2019 with, although he is expected back from his current injury sooner rather than later. It is also possibly a move to keep Jake Connor happier by giving him more time in his preferred position in the halves, and to give Hull a chance to possibly sign somebody with the blistering sort of pace they seem quite short of at the moment. This would also free up a quota spot, with the Black & Whites known to be eyeing up several possible targets in the NRL.

Fijian winger Ratu Naulago is likely to earn a full time contract playing in the reserves this year, having impressed during pre-season training and in friendly games against Doncaster, Wakefield Trinity and St. Helens, many were surprised that he wasn’t handed a deal before the start of the season, but that is likely to happen if the former RU 7s flyer becomes a headline act in the reserves.

There is also mention that Hull are looking at a current international back rower, who is currently playing in the NRL, although no name has been mentioned yet, but who would presumably be a direct replacement for Minichiello, we also know that a high end replacement for the already retired Gareth Ellis is a big priority.

The most important piece of business that also needs attention, is a new deal for head coach Lee Radford. I would personally expect, and this is just plain speculation, an announcement about his future sooner rather than later, because before signing players, they will want to know who they are playing for next season, which I expect will be Radford more than likely.

You can be sure, as soon as there is any news on retention, letting go or signing, you will be able to read it on as soon as possible.

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