Hull FC have signed former Leeds Rhinos star and current Hull KR fullback Jack Walker but that doesn’t make the departure of the man he is replacing any less sad.
Walker is a superb signing but he replaces Jamie Shaul who announced his shock retirement from the sport of rugby league earlier this year.
Many expected him to never play again after this but he will actually be taking on the 15 man code moving forward having followed former Hull FC teammate and ex Castleford Tigers star Bureta Faraimo to Hull Rugby Union.
Shaul made 200 appearances for his hometown club and cementing himself as one of the Black & Whites’ stand out performers of the Super League era.
As a back-to-back Challenge Cup winner, Shaul was the man who secured victory in Hull’s first ever Wembley win in 2016 with his match winning try – one of the most iconic moments in the club’s history.
The one-time England international leaves the club with a significant legacy, alongside fellow Challenge Cup winner Scott Taylor who will also retire at the end of the season.
Like Taylor, Shaul played school rugby at David Lister before rising through the youth ranks at community side Skirlaugh Bulls as a junior. Having joined the club’s academy, Shaul was named as the club’s U20s Player of the Year in 2012s and immediately caught the eye of supporters and Hull’s coaches alike.
He was handed his senior debut at the age of 20 by then head coach Peter Gentle, memorably scoring twice on the road against Wakefield, before scoring a hat-trick in his second match.
Shaul immediately became a key player in FC’s squad, with his electric pace and safety under the high ball being some of his most eye-catching traits.
In just his sixth competitive match for the Airlie Birds, he started the 2013 Challenge Cup Final at full-back, and although it was disappointment for Hull on that occasion, he would etch his name into the history books three years later with the crucial score on the Wembley turf in the 2016 final.
In what would become arguably Shaul’s finest campaign to date, he was rewarded for his impressive season with a place in the Super League Dream Team alongside five of his teammates.
In 2018, having secured his spot as one of the competition’s best full-backs, Shaul was handed his international debut for England, assisting two tries against France at the Leigh Sports Village.
Shaul spent the second-half of the 2022 season on loan at Wakefield Trinity and helped the side secure Super League survival, but returned to FC ahead of the 2023 campaign where he was rewarded with a season-long testimonial by the RFL for a decade of service to the club.
He made his 200th appearance for the club earlier this month, becoming one of only nine players to reach that milestone during the Super League era, alongside the likes of Richard Horne, Danny Houghton, and Kirk Yeaman – fellow Hull born stars of whom Shaul will be held in the same regard.
Shaul’s professional career in Rugby League will come to an end at the culmination of the club’s 2023 Betfred Super League campaign as he begins his journey exploring other opportunities away from the sport.
Speaking on his decision to hang up his boots, Shaul said: “It’s a decision I made quite a while ago. I feel like it’s a good time to call it a day. I’m really happy with what I have achieved in the game; when I signed my first contract, I didn’t think I’d even make an appearance so to do it for ten years is special.
“I used to come and watch this team and support them as a kid, and I’ve lived my boyhood dream.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but this is the right time for me and my family. But I’ll look back on my career with fond memories as I head into the next chapter of my life.
“Even though my body could handle a few more years, I’m convinced in my decision and haven’t questioned it once since I decided.”
Shaul added: “If you speak to any professional player, they’ll tell you its a rollercoaster and it really has been. But looking back now, the only memories I hold onto are happy ones. I’ve met some great people along the way and some lifelong friends too.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved; it’s a lot of hard work to become a professional rugby player and there’s a lot of pressure on you too. I’d like to think I owre my heart on my sleeve and did my bit for the club.”
Meanwhile, paying tribute to the retiring Shaul, Hull FC’s Chief Executive, James Clark, also added: “On behalf of everyone at Hull FC, we would like to congratulate Jamie on a fantastic career and thank him for his commitment to the club over the last decade.
“Jamie became a true immortal when he scored the match winning try at Wembley in 2016, an iconic moment that will live forever in the history of this club and the memories of everyone who watched that game.
“He will be remembered as one of the great Hull-born players of the modern-era, as well as one of the most eye-catching full backs to have worn the number one shirt at Hull FC, scoring countless memorable tries along the way in a special career.
“200 appearances for the club is a notable achievement for any player, but more so for Jamie who has proudly represented his boyhood team and was rightly rewarded with a Testimonial this year.
“At times, his effort and commitment to the club hasn’t been fully appreciated – I recall him missing the birth of his first child so he could fly out to Catalans to play for his team instead.
“He has been able to enjoy the experience alongside his young family, who will look back on his achievements with a huge amount of pride and admiration over the years to come.
“Jamie has been a pleasure to work alongside for staff and teammates alike, and we all wish him the very best for his next chapter in life away from rugby league.”