Hull FC playmaker/hero/grub/pantomime villain Jake Connor has been named in the England squad to face New Zealand in Denver later this month.
As the nightmare dawns on non-Hull FC fans that they will probably have to cheer, instead of jeer, Connor when he puts on an England jersey, I have had time to reflect on Wayne Bennett’s decision to add the former Huddersfield man to the fold.
I think he’s got it spot on.
Connor has been in phenomenal form for the Black and Whites, showing immense skill as well as getting under the skin of the opposition on a weekly basis.
Although St Helens star Danny Richardson has been left out and remains in the England Knights squad, Connor will make the step up and it will be great to see how he fares against the Kiwis, who will have to do their homework on him.
Having played all along the backline at some point during his career, Connor gives Bennett some utility value as he weighs up his options with Stefan Ratchford, Jonny Lomax and Gareth Widdop all able to cover in at full-back and in the halves.
FC boss Lee Radford, in an interview with the Hull Daily Mail following his side’s Magic Weekend victory over KR, also had little clue where he would play Connor for England: “He’d be a fantastic utility option but I don’t know what position he’d go to Denver in,”
“There are some centres in fantastic form in the competition and in the halves I don’t know.”
Connor gives you a bit more needle compared to the players he is competing against for a shot in the halves, and it’s something different to what we have had in those positions over the past few years.
He has become a key figure in the FC camp for being at the heart of the action, whether in defence or attack.
He has superb quality, there is no doubt about that, but the one thing that could have persuaded Bennett to give Connor a chance is that the utility man is a “horrible man”, as said by his club boss ‘with his tongue in his cheek’.
Starring in Denver would put Connor on the international map and it’s the perfect chance for him to show his worth ahead of the test series in October/November.
And I’ll say this; I wouldn’t bet against him leading England to victory at Sports Authority Field next Saturday.