The past week saw the confirmation that Hull FC’s Jake Clifford was to return to the NRL, re-joining boyhood club North Queensland Cowboys, with the Humberside club confirming the much talked about move following the Cowboy’s announcement.
In that announcement it was stated that Clifford had signed on for just a one-year deal and interestingly would serve as ‘back-up’ whilst mentoring the team’s younger halves, who the higher ups at North Queensland deem to be the future.
Hull FC’s statement also provided an interesting line or two with a quote from Tony Smith that explained Clifford would be ‘open to a return to the club in the future’, something that was brought up during Smith’s press conference in which he spoke with BBC Humberside.
Explaining the motivation behind Clifford’s move, Smith said: “Yeah, it’s good. It’s good. All right. It wasn’t an easy decision for him in terms of he was enjoying it. He was enjoying his rugby and he’s been able to progress and work on some aspects of his game that he needed to work on, and there’s still some areas that he needs to like to further improve.
“It’s more about the opportunity of which club it is that is more likely to have had the greatest influence on it. It’s closer to home and when you’ve got a young family as he has and grandparents that are going to be nearby and with a young one, it’s a tempting thing. I totally get it.”
He also explained how he had done the opposite in his career, moving his children away from the wider family, and therefore could fully understand Clifford’s decision before explaining the context of that ‘open to a return’ quote.
“My family opted to do it the other way and my children probably missed out on seeing their grandparents and growing up with grandparents. So I can relate to it and understand when somebody wants to do it the other way and certainly wouldn’t stand in their way when they want to and decide to. I can see that pull and understand that pull.
“He’s enjoyed his time here with his club and with his coach, I think, and the players. So would he come again and do the same over or similar over? Absolutely. That was kind of the context of it.
“As we know in life, who knows when the opportunity may or may not occur again. It was during discussions about this decision, Jake was able to voice some of his thoughts about whether if the opportunity came again that he’d come etc etc and some of that’s hypothetical so we don’t spend a whole lot of time on hypotheticals, but it was nice to talk about it at the time.”
For now Clifford is tasked with the role of returning Hull FC to the playoffs, the side sitting just four points shy at the moment and with a game against Wakefield Trinity this afternoon being must-win if they’re to have any hope at cracking the top six.