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Four things Hull KR must do after renewing Willie Peters’ contract

Hull KR Willie Peters

Hull KR are undeniably one of the Super League clubs on the steepest trajectory at the moment with the Robins quickly rising to emerge as what looks like a possible playoff perennial, as opposed to the bottom-half dwellers that they once were.

Ironically, much of the progress that Hull KR have made has come after their worst day in recent memory – their Million Pound Game defeat against Salford Red Devils in 2016.

Seemingly set to confirm their Super League status, the Robins were leading 18-10 with just two minutes to go but were somehow dragged into golden point, during which Gareth O’Brien’s monster drop goal from close to halfway saved Salford and sunk KR.

It was a collapse of epic proportions and the on-field antics of Marwan Koukash afterwards are scenes that will never be forgotten in English rugby league, however, it could be argued that it was the catalyst to set Hull KR on their current trajectory.

The Robins are rising: How Hull KR went from the Championship to contenders in under a decade

Million Pound Game

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Whilst some owners would fold at a time like that, Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell kept the faith and his commitment to playing in the Championship on a Super League budget saw KR top the Championship with 19 wins from 23 before then earning promotion via the short-lived Middle Eights’ system.

The downfall of so many clubs that are relegated is the failure to immediately return and it can in some instances lead to lengthy spells in the second tier, take Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings for example.

Hull KR had no such issue and since then, despite a change of leadership with Neil Hudgell bringing Paul Sewell and Paul Lakin on board, the Robins have continued to kick on.

The past two seasons under Willie Peters have been the best years since that relegation and arguably among the best since their last trophy back in 1985 and that is why it was such a major story when the Australian committed his future to the club.

Just a fortnight ago, Hull KR confirmed that Peters would remain at Craven Park until the end of the 2028 season. It was news that signified that Hull KR aren’t simply a club having a good couple of years, but a club that intends to continue to develop and break into that top alongside the likes of St Helens, Wigan and Catalans.

With the important issue of the off-contract Australian at the helm sorted out, what do Hull KR have to prioritise next to keep the ship sailing in the right direction?

QUIZ: Can you name these 10 former Hull KR players?

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Hull KR need to preserve what they have got

Hull KR Niall Evalds

Credit: Imago Images

Recruitment is always the buzzword in sports like rugby league but equally, and if not more, important is retainment.

Hull KR have done the first job of retaining Willie Peters but they must now go about tieing down their playing squad, ideally for the same duration that Peters will be in HU9 for.

The ‘Jewel in the Crown’ at Hull KR is Mikey Lewis and he already is contracted through until 2028, that deal coming before even Willie Peters’ deal which highlights just how valuable he is deemed by the higher-ups at Craven Park.

Jez Litten is another of those key spine players and he is penned in till 2027 along with Gerdie forward Sam Luckley, who bagged a brace at the weekend, and Ireland captain George King. Despite being tied down till 2027, there are plenty of reports that King will head to Huddersfield Giants for 2025.

KR’s captain Elliot Minchella headlines the names tied down until the end of 2026, but a contract extension beyond that would surely delight the fans. Centres Peta Hiku and Ollie Gildart are also tied down till then along with current first-teamers Jai Whitbread, Kelepi Tanginoa, James Batchelor and Joe Burgess.

Therefore, almost all positions are accounted for until at least 2026 but Niall Evalds will surely be next on the extension wishlist with the full-back currently leading the assist charts in Super League. With winger Tom Davies reported to be arriving for 2025 on a multi-year deal, the Robins look in good shape if they can sort out Niall Evalds’ contract and also Tyrone May.

Sign a back-up hooker

 Matt Parcell

Credit: Imago Images

As referenced, Jez Litten is contracted until 2027 and he certainly seems to be the future in the position but there’s an alarming lack of depth behind him.

Hull KR currently have Matt Parcell as their deputy, arguably one of the best backup hookers in Super League but the former Leeds Rhinos man is off-contract and expected to retire at the end of the season.

Hooker number three, Reiss Butterworth, is also off contract and hasn’t necessarily developed into what a side the calibre of and with the ambitions of Hull KR would want.

Butterworth has had loan spells with London Broncos and is currently out on loan with former club Dewsbury Rams, the Championship potentially being where he will ply his trade in 2025.

Young Lennie Ellis is a rising star in the academy and has been handed a squad number for the current campaign. He did get his first Super League appearance in the hammering against Wigan last year just before the Challenge Cup Final, but is yet to feature in 2024.

Worryingly though, Ellis is on the off-contract list for the end of this season and whilst there’s plenty of time for that to change, as it has of late with Louix Gorman, the Robins will need a more senior backup.

The Robins are currently using a quota spot on a backup hooker and so potentially they may see fit to do so next year with the list of off-contract hookers in Super League looking extremely limited.

Expand Craven Park

Hull KR

Credit: Imago Images

With the new IMG era of rugby league, there’s plenty of importance placed on the off-field actions as well as on-field and there is a clear area that Hull KR can continue to grow.

That would be their stadium itself with Craven Park in need of an expansion with the club regularly registering home sellouts.

Carrying on from 2023 into the early rounds of 2o24, there were six home sellouts in a row whilst there wasn’t a seat to be had in the stadium for their meeting against St Helens earlier this year.

The club have already worked wonders redeveloping the unused South Stand, turning it into the sensational Craven Streat which boasts a carnival-like atmosphere both before and after games.

What is desperately needed to satisfy the Hull KR faithful is an extension on their East Stand, which regularly sells out and is fast becoming one of the most notorious stands in Super League.

Recently, club CEO Paul Lakin discussed plans to extend the stand which is something that would appease fans and also aid their IMG hopes too.

He told the BBC: “We’re certainly looking to develop, whether we’ll develop this end first, it may be an extension to the East Stand, but we need new capacity.

“As I say, every league game is a sell-out, which is a great problem to have, and hopefully one we’ll resolve for next season.”

Can Hull KR break their near-40-year trophy drought?

Hull KR Jez Litten

Credit: Imago Images

A final thing that Hull KR ‘need’ to do on their current rise would be to win some silverware, but that is the one thing that is the easiest said of all, when in reality it’s by far the hardest to do.

Extending contracts, signing a new hooker and developing the East Stand at Craven Park are all ambitious but they’re also tangible and solely in the control of those at the club.

Every single other Super League club will go about extending contracts, signing specific player and working on their stadiums given it’s important under IMG. However, only one side will win Super League each year.

For Hull KR to break their drought and lift silverware, even if it’s the Challenge Cup (for which they’ll have to wait another 13 months to attempt), then they will firmly establish themselves as one of the top four teams in Super League.

To do that though they need to break their semi-final hoodoo with Hull KR having crashed out at the semi-final stage far too often lately, with the last two being devasting defeats to Wigan Warriors.

The Robins lost this year’s Challenge Cup semi and last year’s Super League play-off semi by an aggregate score of 80-18 against Matt Peet’s side. That’s in spite of the fact they’ve beaten Wigan twice in the league and taken them to golden point in the three games against each other in Super League the past two seasons (barring when KR played the kids).

Wigan have found that one trophy brings two or even three and next week it could be four with their 2022 Challenge Cup win having sparked a Super League title, a World Club Challenge and the fact they play at Wembley in under a fortnight.

The toughest thing Hull KR must do, winning a trophy, would do more for the club than anything else combined but they’re certainly in the mix.

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