Airlie Birds extend veterans’ deals

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Fresh off the back of announcing Jake Connor’s new deal, Hull FC have today confirmed that both Mark Minichello and Sika Manu have extended their stays at the reigning Challenge Cup winners until the end of 2019.

With the forwards’ deals set to expire at the end of the current campaign, fans will be delighted to have heard the news that two of head coach Lee Radford’s most trusted players have agreed terms to stay with the club. The extension of Manu’s deal is made all the more impressive by the fact that the club have reportedly fought off NRL interest in the Tongan international captain. Radford explained that “Sika has been phenomenal for us since joining the club in 2016. We fought off some genuine interest from powerhouses in the NRL, so for him to choose to stay here is a big pat on the back for the club.”

Minichello, like Manu, was a captain at last year’s World Cup and the 36-year-old was understandably pleased to have signed a new deal with the Airlie Birds. “Since I arrived here back at the start of 2015, the club has changed dramatically for the better. Everything is building nicely, and Lee is creating a great culture here,” he explained. “I’m sure it’s going to continue in the same direction and I’m happy to be a part of that going forward. We have plenty of good people and players around the club and it’s great to be a part of it.” Since joining the club in 2015, Minichello has made in excess of a hundred appearances for the club and was a key player in them becoming consecutive Challenge Cup winners in 2016 and 2017. Now, the former South Sydney Rabbitohs star is aiming higher. “I’ve already created some great memories here, but one of the key reasons I wanted to stay on was to try and help the side to a Grand Final appearance,” he shared.

What is impressive for Hull FC this year, considering the number of injuries – especially in the pack – they have suffered, is that the club are three points off Castleford in fourth spot and are certainly in with a shout of reaching the Super League play-off semi-finals come season’s end. Recently, the Airlie Birds have seen Carlos Tuimavave and Fetuli Talanoa as well as the mercurially talented duo of Albert Kelly and Jake Connor. While Connor’s deal, unlike the other three named, wasn’t expiring at the end of the season and was set to run until the end of 2020, the new England international’s ability and importance has been recognised by the club. Such has been the impressive way Hull FC have developed over recent years – as suggested by Minichello – the club is clearly aiming for improvement by evolution rather than revolution; using the already strong setup they have both on and off the field as a strong base to build upon.

Maintaining five stars whose deals were set to expire is impressive for the club – especially with the NRL interest in Kelly and Manu – and it will not be long before Hull FC are challenging for a maiden Super League title.

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