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Jake Clifford’s new club confirm he has signed for ‘back-up’ role following Hull FC departure

It has finally been confirmed that Hull FC star Jake Clifford is returning back to the NRL with his former club North Queensland Cowboys announcing that they’ve signed the half-back to a one-year contract.

Clifford has been one of the standout players of the Super League campaign and is almost certainly a candidate for signing of the season with his calm and tough nature being integral to the Black and Whites’ return to form.

His ability to kick, orchestrate and also take the ball into contact is a rare combination with Clifford scoring plenty of short distance barge over tries highlighting he’s more than willing to put his body where it hurts.

It’s to no surprise that NRL clubs were interested in him and in the Cowboys he returns to his boyhood club less than a year after first making the switch to Super League.

It’s long been speculated that Clifford was set for a return given his incredible form and strong reports down under that the deal was done but today his new club North Queensland confirmed the news via their club website and on social media.

Clifford won the 2018 Cowboys Rookie of the year award and was a junior coming through the team’s academy system so it’s set to be a perfect landing spot for him and his form more than justifies it.

The club’s General Manager of Football, Michael Luck, added to the team’s statement explaining why they’d made the move.

“With Ben Hampton leaving our squad in 2024 we were searching for a half with NRL experience who could back-up Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden as well as help to mentor Tom Duffy,”  Luck said.

“It came to our attention Jake potentially had an interest in coming back to the NRL. We had some discussions with Jake and his agent and we were thrilled to be able to come to terms in quick time.

“He was playing some of the best football of his career under Todd before he left in 2021 and we’re excited about what he can bring to our squad in terms of experience and competition for spots.

“We also know he is a great cultural fit and it’s always a bonus to be able to bring a North Queensland boy home.”

One really interesting element of Luck’s statement is where he states that the team were on the search for a “half with NRL experience who could back-up Chas Townsend and Tom Dearden”.

This suggests that the Cowboys don’t see Clifford as their future starter, as indicated also by the one year contract he’s been handed, and as such it’s a poor reflection for Hull FC that their star player would rather operate as a back-up in the NRL than shine for their side in Super League.

In that same sentence Luck also states that Clifford’s role will see him “mentor Tom Duffy” who is a young half-back that was described by Fox Sports as “a prodigy”.

Duffy is just 19 and has starred for Queensland in the Under 19’s State of Origin and having signed a two-year contract with the Cowboys he clearly has the nod over 25-year-old Clifford in the long run.

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