It had been widely reported earlier in the season that Hull FC’s Jake Clifford was to head back down under to the NRL and the news this morning came from North Queensland Cowboys that they had signed the playmaker to a one year contract for 2024.
Two hours later it has also been confirmed by the Super League side Hull FC who will lose one of their star players to the NRL after just one season, which will be a major blow.
Clifford has been at the heart of plenty of the excellent performances that Tony Smith’s side have put in this year and has showed true class to be one of the signings of the season, if not among the candidates for player of the season.
The Cowboys had earlier tweeted the news with the tag line ‘Cliffo is coming home’, and now Hull FC took to Twitter to affirm that.
Hull FC can confirm that Jake Clifford will depart the club at the end of the 2023 Betfred Super League campaign.
The Australian half-back will return to the NRL to join boyhood club North Queensland Cowboys.
— Hull FC (@hullfcofficial) August 2, 2023
The club then shared a statement to their website.
“Hull FC can confirm that Jake Clifford will depart the club at the end of the 2023 Betfred Super League campaign.
“The Australian half-back will return to NRL to join boyhood club North Queensland Cowboys.
“The 24-year-old will return to his former club in Townsville which is home to his close friends and family, which has been a key factor in his decision.”
Hull FC head coach Tony Smith said: “Jake has been honest with us throughout and it has been a genuinely difficult decision for him, he’s really enjoying his time at the club.
“I think if it was any other club he wouldn’t be going back, but we understand the draw of being close to family and friends, especially with a young child.
“He was always going to come to a point where he was ready for a return to the NRL, which we hoped wouldn’t have been as soon, but we fully support his decision.
“It’s a sign he has been playing well for us and settled very quickly here, which is a positive reflection on our club.
“I know he is open to a return to the club in the future.”
He added, “We have made really encouraging progress on our recruitment for next season, which will include a replacement for Jake, and we will update everyone when the time is right, but for now our focus is on a positive end to this season.”
“The club would like to wish Jake and his family all the best for next season and beyond, as he aims to finish the current campaign on a high with the Black & Whites.
“The club will be making announcements on a number of new signings over the coming weeks.”
Who the club intend to sign is unclear but it has been confirmed by the Cowboys that Clifford will play a back-up role and also mentor a young up and coming prodigy.