In recent years, Hull FC’s transfer history can ultimately be described as hit-and-miss – and that is almost being generous. For every Gareth Ellis – a signing that has taken Super League by storm and been a resounding success – there is ultimately a Brett Seymour, a signing that has seriously flattered to deceive.
With their recent track record of half-backs in particular failing to captivate the imagination, the club have moved away from overseas recruitment for their 2015 half-back drive – after they announced the captures of Marc Sneyd – for a hefty £100,000 – and Leon Pryce form Catalan Dragons.
Sneyd is still very much a work in progress, but it is the case of Leon Pryce that could well turn out to be a hugely defining moment in the immediate future of Hull FC. He is far and away the best signing they have managed to land in recent years – including Ellis – and will give them plenty of things the team have seriously lacked over recent years.
First and foremost, he will be a leader of the side. With the likes of Jacob Miller and Jordan Rankin looking to come over and establish themselves as first-choice half-backs, it almost has a stifling effect on Hull FC as a club. Having the experience of Pryce playing alongside Sneyd – or even someone like Miller, should he choose to stay – will benefit the rest massively, and will help drive Hull FC forward on a weekly basis.
The possession of leaders in your side cannot be underestimated; just having a glance across the rest of Super League tells you that. Wigan’s reliance (not total reliance, though) on Sean O’Loughlin is there for everyone to see, and the likes of Kevin Sinfield and Paul Wellens continue to have a massive influence on their respective club sides, despite being in the later years of their careers. Pryce will give Hull FC that in abundance, and alongside the likes of Jamie Shaul and Sneyd, he will help to develop them as players, too.
It is often regarded that the pressure of playing in Hull – a real hotbed of the game – is greater than anywhere else, but expect Pryce to be able to cope with that pressure comfortably. This is a guy who has won every major honour in the game during his career, and he has also taken a fair bit of flak in the past, too. His comments about Bondi and Blackpool beach whilst on tour with Great Britain copped him a huge amount of heat from the Australian media – but he shrugged it off with consummate ease. The pressure on his shoulders becoming the first Englishman to go and play for the Catalan Dragons was pretty substantial, too – but again, he has delivered consistently during his time in Perpignan.
Pryce will be determined to go out on a high with the Dragons, and steer them towards a commanding run in the play-offs. But there will also be another target in the back of his mind – the League Express Albert Goldthorpe Medal. At the time of writing, Pryce is currently just two points behind Hull KR’s Travis Burns at the top of the tree – ending the season by pipping a Rovers man to a major individual honour would be some way to endear yourself to Hull FC’s army of fans, you’d have to say.