In the next installment of the Magic Weekend – Fans’ view from Get ’em Onside, Hull FC are pitched against cross-river rivals Hull KR as Josh Luckhurst, a 24 year old Airlie Birds’ fan since childhood provides the answers alongside Callum Richardson of RL for Beginners, a Hull KR fan for over twenty years…
1) We are around halfway through the season now – how do you feel your team is doing?
FC: Hull FC are doing okay this season. You can’t do much more with their home form but their away form has been particularly poor and needs improve, we only won at Widnes and Rovers and to challenge for the top four, it simply has to be better. Usually we can be hit-and-miss at the KCOM Stadium but we have been solid this year and have already had impressive wins against Leeds and Castleford so that gives me hope for the second half of the campaign.
KR: It’s not been the best of seasons, especially after the campaign we had last year, but in all honesty, it is our first season back and we have been heavily hit by injuries (easy excuse I know, but a bit of research will show you the doctors attendance – the medical staff have certainly been busy! I think we knew we were going to be in for a fight this season, but I don’t think we expected to be struggling so much! When we have been poor, we have been very poor (as shown recently vs Wakefield) but on the other hand, when we have played well, we have been fantastic – such as versus Leeds, where a few strange decisions cost us the 2 points, and I am fairly sure many Rhinos who were at the game will agree (they certainly did in the car park post match!)
2) What is the best match you’ve been to or seen this season of your team and why?
FC: The home win against Leeds was a contender but it has to be the victory at Rovers. 71 minutes with 12 men and still comfortably winning was just unbelievable really. The tries we scored looked like we had the extra man and that is what we are capable of against any team in Super League on our day.
KR: Tough question – I am going to say Leeds at home strangely enough! Though we lost due to a poor performance by the referee and some very peculiar decisions, the heart and the passion was there for all to see. We played absolutely fantastic, and 1-17 all had hearts of lions. We tried new things, which I always enjoy and Justin Carney & Mose Masoe got to show their best sides – pure, brute power and aggression! I don’t mind watching the team lose, when we show passion, determination and hard graft!
3) Who has been the team that have impressed you most so far and why?
FC: St Helens. I thought they would be among the top four this year after their great finish to last season but I’ve enjoyed watching them as a unit this year. Ben Barba is world class and just having him in the team is a boost to the other players. I covered the match between Hull KR and St Helens and he was immense despite only touching the ball about 10 times in the match. The other players just feed off his energy and they are a real top-quality outfit anyway.
KR: St Helens – now I know that sounds like an easy obvious response, but with the Saints, you never know what to expect, they have seasons where they are “pretty average” but they also have seasons like this year, where they are just exciting to watch! No matter who you support, or what you think of the man, you have just got to love watching Ben Barba, he is different gravy. I also really enjoy watching Regan Grace on the wing – he is only young, but he has got a fantastic future ahead of him! Some of the things he can do and his acrobatical skill is second to none! I am excited to see how his career pans out!
4) Who is your team’s player of the season so far?
FC: To be honest, I’ve not seen Hull as much as I would like too, but on what I have seen it has to be Fetuli Talanoa. He has really stepped up this season after Mahe Fonua’s departure at the end of last year and has been scoring tries for fun. I was a little sceptic when he first signs but he is the first name on the team sheet for me now.
KR: For me it would have to be Robbie Mulhern! Forwards don’t get as much recognition as they deserve, as they generally just end up being battering rams, but the lad has really impressed me this year! He is only a young bloke, but his ability and rugby brain is fantastic. He has been using his power really well, using his size and has broken the defensive line on a number of occasions! He puts 110% into every game. Another stand out memory from this season, which I bet a lot of people will not let him forget any time soon, was his break at Elland Road when we played Leeds! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a forward run as fast, or as far as he did – bet he was gutted he had to offload, rather than get the try himself – he deserved it in all fairness!
5) Which player from your Magic Weekend opponents would you like to see in your team’s shirt?
FC: We picked up some good players from that side of the river in recent years, with Scott Taylor, Liam Watts and Albert Kelly. They have some good players to be fair, Danny McGuire is just evergreen and could still do a good job in any Super League team, while Adam Quinlan has been standout in the couple of matches I’ve covered this season. But my choice would be James Greenwood. He has produced some great performances from what I’ve seen and he’s a hard-running back rower who enjoys the contact, which we lack sometimes. He would be a great replacement for Mark Minichiello or Sika Manu, but only when they leave. They want to win more derbies first!
KR: You can’t ask this to a Rovers fan about Hull FC surely?! As a RL fan though, I would say Bureta Faraimo. He had big boots to fill replacing Mahe Fonua and has done a fantastic job! I know a lot of Hull FC fans have not even noticed many differences between the two. Most wingers I like end up having the attributes he has – strength, pace, power and intelligence, and when they came to our place, he caused a few headaches for our defence line. This was the toughest question!
6) What are your hopes for your Magic Weekend match – do you think you can/will win?
FC: The Magic Weekend is like a cup final really but it’s good to play Rovers once again. I’ve got to positive after the win at the KCOM Craven Park at Easter but this game is usually decided by a dodgy decision either way. We should win by 10+ in my opinion but it’s never that easy against ‘them lot’.
KR: The Magic Weekend derby (along with any derby) always has been unpredictable, nobody knows what is going to happen, and form goes out of the window. Magical things always seem to happen during the Hull derby (for us the David Hodgson try speaks volumes, and for Hull Chris Green probably does the same). I personally think it is going to be another good game, and I think a lot of the lads at Rovers will want revenge so we will have to wait and see!
7) How do you think your season will end up?
FC: I think we will sneak into the top four and will go deep in the Challenge Cup. Retaining the cup was unbelievable last season so I suppose there’s less pressure because we have done it now, it was no fluke. But I can’t envisage is winning it was a third successive season. I think Castleford could struggle with Luke Gale’s knee injury and it’s only Saints that I would worry we can’t beat at this moment. If we make the top four then that’s another successive season and the play-offs are then just who are better on the day. But I am quietly optimistic…
KR: It’s going to be a tough second half of the season, but optimism must be used right now! At the start of the season I called 8th, and this is still achievable, if we show the passion we have in some games and have some consistency, that will make a massive change! Also if we get rid of the terrible luck we had so far with injuries, especially to key players, we will do well. If we don’t reach 8th, 9th will help, because it will be the toughest Middle 8’s to date, so the 4 home games will make a massive difference, I reckon!
8) What do you think of Magic Weekend? Have you ever been before? What are the parts of it you look forward to most?
FC: I love the concept of the Magic Weekend. It’s great being able to watch some of the world’s best rugby league players at one stadium and constant action. For a rugby league purist, it’s just great. I’ve been just once before, in 2013. It was incredible. The atmosphere was nothing like I’ve seen at a rugby league match and it was like that for all 3/4 matches for both days. It was a good first day for me too as FC beat KR thanks to a dodgy try by Chris Green, who was clearly offside and, despite going to video referee Steve Ganson, he still awarded the try which won it for us.
KR: I have been disillusioned by the Magic Weekend – to me, it is too much focussed on a cash cow for the RFL, knowing that the Hull derby will drag in the numbers, but for me, there are too many derbies! There is the friendly, the home and away ties and Magic Weekend, along with the potential (though very slim currently) of Super 8’s, challenge cup and grand final – it’s too many! I must admit, I loved Blackpool for the bash last year! Had a great weekend and it was a refreshing change!
I have been to a couple of Magic Weekends, in Manchester and also Newcastle (unfortunately I did not go when it was in Edinburgh and Cardiff, though I wish I did, for the experience!
I do look forward to seeing back to back games of Rugby League, it gives me a strong fix, and also will give me the opportunity to spend some more time with family watching the sport which I love – this year I plan on going round to my dads house for a few beers, may bring my son and partner with me as well – he’s two and loves the game!