The Airlie Birds come into the 2024 campaign with fresh hope following an underwhelming finish to last year.
There was much talk of the ‘Tony Smith effect’ ahead of 2023, and the signings of star half-backs Jake Clifford and Jake Trueman filled fans with hope; but they ultimately failed to live up to expectations and strolled to a tenth placed finish.
Their squad has been given a face lift this season, and it looks like Tony Smith is putting his own stamp on the squad in his second season in charge. They have seen several high profile exits, in the form of Andre Savelio and Adam Swift to Huddersfield, Jake Clifford has returned down under to link up with the North Queensland Cowboys, and stalwart Scott Taylor has hung up his boots; but they have also brought in plenty of fresh faces.
Jack Walker, Jack Ashworth, Liam Tindall and Morgan Smith all bring a wealth of Super League experience to the MKM, but the headlines are dominated by their NRL recruits. Herman Ese’ese, Jayden Okunbor, Franklin Pele and Fa’amanu Brown have all swapped the NRL for Super League this off-season, and will be looking to make an immediate impact.
These changes bring a fresh look to the squad, but how will they line up this season? Here is our best guess at a potential Hull FC line-up in 2024:
Full-back: Jack Walker
Jack Walker is back in West Hull this season, however his form for city rivals Hull KR showed he is a fine addition to Tony Smith’s side. Walker joined the Robins following Lachlan Coote’s retirement, and he impressed from the off. He faces strong competition for the starting jersey, but Jake Trueman’s absence should allow Walker to start the season off in the starting team and he should make a good case to keep his place.
Wingers: Liam Tindall and Darnell McIntosh
New recruit Liam Tindall joins Darnell McIntosh on the wings this season. Tindall has swapped the blue and amber of Leeds Rhinos for the black and white of Hull FC this off-season, and whilst he saw limited minutes at Headingley last time out, he showed he can be a good Super League player. He is also still developing as a player, and doing this in the starting team should help him further hone his craft. Joining Tindall on the wings in Darnell McIntosh. McIntosh is now in his third season in black and white, and he will be wanting to make this his best year to date. He has a real eye for the try-line and this will prove vital for the Airlie Birds this season. He is also still developing as a player, and will only improve this season.
Centres: Carlos Tuimavave and Liam Sutcliffe
It looks like last years centre partnership will stay in place this year. Club captain Tuimavave is entering his ninth season in West Hull, and his experience at the club will prove vital to the new playing group. He has also tasted success at the club, and this could prove vital as they look to wipe the slate clean following some tough times in recent years. His centre partner Liam Sutcliffe had a good first campaign for Hull FC last season, and will hoping for more of the same in 2024. Sutcliffe is another player who knows what it takes to reach Grand Finals following his time at Leeds Rhinos, and this experience could again be vital to this new look young group.
Half-backs: Tex Hoy and Fa’amanu Brown
Jake Trueman’s absence means Hull FC have a void in the half-backs to start the campaign, but it could be filled by Tex Hoy. Hoy was a standout player for his club last season, especially in the early part of the season; and shifting him into the halves at the start of the season could see him recapture that form again. He is not a traditional half-back, but he is an X-factor player when at his best, and a potential early season position change might be the spark he needs. Alongside him is new recruit Fa’amanu Brown. Brown moves to Hull from NRL side Newcastle Knights, and the Samoan and New Zealand international looks to be a fantastic recruit. Not only does he bring his international pedigree to the MKM, but he also a versatile player and could easily slot in at hooker. This could prove vital for Hull FC this year, and allow for more rotation of the backline and pack alike.
Props: Herman Ese’ese and Franklin Pele
Two new recruits in the front-row this season for Hull FC, as Herman Ese’ese and Franklin Pele take the eight and 10 shirts this year. Both players will bring plenty of physicality and power to their new team this year, and look to be the perfect replacement for Catalans bound Chris Satae. Both players will also be keen to hit the ground running in their first season in the UK, so Hull FC fans should be excited to watch this pair.
Hooker: Danny Houghton
Who else would take the starting hooker position. Danny Houghton is already a club legend, but the big thing for him this season will be reaching his 400th appearance for the club. He is also one of the clubs key players on the pitch, and will need to play an important part if they want to be successful.
Second-rowers: Jayden Okunbor Ligi Sao
It’s another new looking area in the pack, with two new men in the back row this year. Jayden Okunbor has joined the Airlie Birds from the Canterbury Bulldogs, and he will be another man looking to hit the ground running this season, and he looks set to feature alongside Ligi Sao. Sao has been given the 12 shirt this season, which suggests he will feature more in the back row this season; this could be a masterstroke from Tony Smith. Sao has played there before on the international stage, but his experience at prop means there could be more rotation throughout the pack, and will also take some of the load off of Ese’ese and Pele.
Loose forward: Brad Fash
Brad Fash is another key player for Hull, and he will be looking for another big year this campaign. Fash does a lot of the ugly jobs for his team, and gets through plenty of work in the middle. He is another player who provides versatility in the pack and this again will allow for more rotation within the pack.
Academy graduate Jordan Lane is a talented forward, and could add plenty of impact from the bench.
New recruit Jack Ashworth was deployed off the bench last season for Huddersfield, and should have a similar role this time around for his new employers.
Cam Scott’s versatility allows for plenty of rotation in the pack, and this could prove crucial to his side this season from the bench.
New arrival Morgan Smith looks likely to feature from the bench this season, with Fa’amanu Brown likely to be the replacement hooker figure. Furthermore, having an extra half-back on the bench will also allow some more rotation through the spine, especially without Jake Trueman.
/ 3 hours ago
St Helens star Konrad Hurrell has controversially been suspended after the Saints defeated Leigh...
/ 3 hours ago
The past week’s Super League action included big wins for the likes of the...
/ 3 hours ago
John Asiata was sin-binned after just 41 seconds on Friday night against St Helens...
/ 4 hours ago
Leeds Rhinos star James Bentley copped a one match ban after the game against...
/ 18 hours ago
“What a hit” was the caption as Sky Sports shared a big tackle from...