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Jon Wilkin says Jake Clifford situation has ‘put players off’ joining Hull FC

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Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin has made the claim that the experience of Jake Clifford will have put other overseas stars off signing for Hull FC, something that he believes will continue to hinder the club for an extended period.

Hull FC signed Jake Clifford along with current Castleford Tigers star Tex Hoy from Newcastle Knights ahead of the 2023 campaign on two-year contracts but neither man completed their stay at the MKM Stadium.

Hoy was released earlier in the season and has since signed and starred for Castleford Tigers, whilst half-back Clifford returned to his boyhood club North Queensland Cowboys at the end of the 2023 season after shining for the Black and Whites.

Upon exiting the club though, the 26-year-old revealed to the Australian media that “England was a piece of piss” as he called into question the standards and intensity of the Hull FC pre-season.

Speaking to SEN Radio, Clifford said: “Pre-season in England was a piece of piss really, compared to what we go through here.”

Jon Wilkin has now claimed that statements such as that, and other tales, have hindered Hull FC in their recruitment recently and will continue to do so until they land a star player.

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Jon Wilkin explains how Hull FC can transform their recruitment

Speaking on Sky Sports ahead of the Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos game, Wilkin commented on Tony Smith’s admission that Shaun Kenny-Dowall was a transformative signing for Hull KR. The Kiwi international signed a year into Smith’s tenure and would help raise standards in his four years at Craven Park.

That promoted Jon Wilkin to explain: “Shaun Kenny-Dowell or Krisnan Inu at Salford has massive value because they become your biggest brand advocates and when you’re asking you’re asking a family to move from the southern hemisphere over, we’re talking exclusively about the players coming from the southern hemisphere, here to attract those types of players you need a brand advocate.

“You need somebody who says ‘This is brilliant, get down here’ and Hull haven’t had that for some time. If you sign players then it doesn’t get going, then for them, the experience is pretty poor and then they go back and maybe there are murmurings.”

Specifically on Clifford’s comments, Wilkin said: “Jake Clifford comes out with a comment and that makes it even more difficult and that’s the cycle that you have to stop and it’s a bit of potluck with getting the right man at the right time.”

He noted that Hull FC and their opponents Leeds Rhinos were two teams that had failed in that element of recruitment, with neither team having true star quality from overseas.

“The way I see it, we’re in a recruitment sport and I think both clubs here tonight have fallen short in that area in recent years.”

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