Brett Hodgson ready to give Jamie Shaul chance to impress in Hull FC opener

Hull FC coach Brett Hodgson says he’s more than happy to pitch Jamie Shaul into opening-round action as he deals with injury issues ahead of the trip to Wakefield on Sunday.

Jake Connor has been ruled out because of a broken hand suffered in the pre-season game at Leeds.

And while the star fullback says he’s targeting the round-two home clash with St Helens the following Saturday, there are fears he could be out until March.

Having returned from a long-term knee injury towards the end of last season, experienced Shaul had been targeting a wing berth this time around, but will now revert to the position where he made his name with the Black and Whites.

The 29-year-old didn’t feature in either of Hull’s warm-up games at Bradford and Leeds, but both coach and player are comfortable with the prospect of him facing Trinity.

“There were a few we purposely didn’t play at Leeds to make sure they are in contention for round one,” said Hodgson, who will also be without forwards Kane Evans, Scott Taylor and Josh Bowden and is scouring the market for reinforcements.

“Jake is a special talent, so his injury is disappointing, but we’ve got a good replacement in Jamie. He knows what he’s doing and I’ve got every confidence in him.”

Hull-born Shaul, who has scotched suggestions of a move to Castleford, said: “We have options but I’m happy to jump in at fullback if needed.”

Hodgson, entering his second season in charge and desperate to improve on last year’s eighth-placed finish, is optimistic Tongan forward Tevita Satae will be fit to face Wakefield after a calf strain.

And with new front row addition Kane Evans’ pectoral problem not as serious as feared, he is hopeful the Fiji international will be ready to play in fourth-round game at ex-Hull coach Lee Radford’s Castleford after he finishes a ban carried over from an NRL appearance for New Zealand Warriors.

“We finished last season decimated injury-wise, but I think the squad is reasonably healthy, and we’re excited about what we can do this time,” added Hodgson.

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