Garry Schofield admits he is pleased to see Luke Gale heading eastwards next season to the MKM Stadium.
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!
I’m really happy for fans of my first professional side Hull after the signing of Luke Gale.
I sometimes get a bit of stick from the black and white faithful, especially when I sing the praises of Hull Kingston Rovers, but just as with my other former team Leeds, I have a lot of respect for the club and their followers and I want to see them do well.
With Luke in the side, I think that’s more likely, and I also reckon his presence will help deliver a more entertaining style of play at the MKM Stadium.
What with Leeds’ inconsistency, his clash with coach Richard Agar, his fitness problems and the Rhinos’ high-profile recruitment of Blake Austin from Warrington and Aidan Sezer from Huddersfield, Luke did not have the best of years.
It was hard to envisage Leeds going with three players who all need and expect to be featuring regularly, and there had been plenty of speculation about Luke leaving.
Hull might miss the goal-kicking of Salford-bound Marc Sneyd, but I think he is a more creative player, and hopefully with him to call on, they will move away from those dull and predictable tactics of driving up the field then putting the ball up in the air.
Along with Wigan, they have been the most boring team in Super League to watch, but with Lee Briers now having his input on the Warriors as one of their assistant coaches and Luke in the side at Hull, that could change. Let’s hope so anyway!
One of the most exciting things for the Hull supporters, who had to endure a dismal second half of the 2021 season, which meant no play-off place at the end of it, is the chance to see Luke link up with Josh Reynolds and Jake Connor.
There’s some real quality in that spine, and I look back to when Luke was playing alongside Zak Hardaker at Castleford and recall how dynamic and fluent a team they were.
In the modern game, fullbacks can be almost a second stand-off. Zak did that at Castleford; and if Jake can follow suit at Hull, who should also have Jamie Shaul to call on and to keep Jake on his toes, that bodes well for Brett Hodgson’s attacking options.
Brett, of course, was a great fullback himself, and his coaching will only improve Jake, who I think is among the most talented players in our competition, and Jamie.
Josh is a top player with bags of experience, and his injury problems certainly seemed to have a big impact as Hull’s fortunes dipped and they finally finished a distant eighth in the table.
Hopefully he can stay fit and firing throughout 2022 and his side can be genuine contenders.
As a club, Hull seem to have lost their buzz and pretty much their purpose over the last few years, and for the fans, who must have struggled to stay awake at some matches, the pain and frustration of that has been accentuated by this season’s success of their big rivals across the city.
I really enjoyed watching Rovers’ run to the play-off semi-finals under Tony Smith, but the reality is that two strong clubs on Humberside, one of the great Rugby League strongholds in this country, where there are so many knowledgeable and passionate supporters on either side of the divide, would be great for our game.
How good would a Hull versus Rovers play-off meeting be?
Things looking up at Salford
Salford’s re-signing of Marc Sneyd, who began his career there before joining Hull in 2015, might have come as something of a surprise.
But confirmation of Paul Rowley’s appointment as coach in succession to Richard Marshall didn’t.
He was already at the club in a consultancy role and as soon as Richard left after this year’s second-bottom finish, he was linked with the vacancy.
For whatever reason (or reasons), and we’ll probably never be sure exactly what happened, it didn’t work out for Richard.
That’s disappointing, because he’s a bright young British coach who always had a tough task in succeeding Ian Watson, and hopefully he won’t be lost to the game.
But I also rate Paul highly, and I’m pleased to see him back in a hot seat after being out of the firing line for a while.
He did a good job in his first coaching role with Leigh, who really picked up under his command, and gained valuable experience at Toronto Wolfpack.
That should help him in his latest challenge with the Red Devils, who have had an up and down few years.
Reaching the Grand Final and Challenge Cup final under Watto were great achievements, but they were always going to take some following.
I think Salford were too undisciplined as well as too inconsistent this year, so that’s something Paul will have to sort out.
But he’s got the makings of a decent squad, with a new halfback in Brodie Croft from Brisbane Broncos and the versatile Ryan Brierley coming in from Leigh.
Paul will have to work out how to get the best from Sneyd, and if the halves can provide the right service, there are certainly enough good backs to benefit.
How far can we go?
Crazy, crazy, crazy!
So, the old Hemel Stags have wound up in Cornwall rather than Canada, with Eric Perez perhaps finding one of the only places in this country that takes longer to get to than Ottawa.
Drive another 30 miles further down the road, and you’re literally at Land’s End.
Staunch expansionists will be happy and will do their best to find positives, but from my point of view, you have to search very, very deep, and even if you do that, there won’t be any treasure unearthed.
I’ve heard the people behind the club talk about potential new fans and drawing on the stock of rugby union players in the county.
But as we have seen with West Wales Raiders, who managed to pick one of the staunchest union strongholds going in Llanelli to set up home, it’s not that easy.
It’s hard to attract the quality of union player who can make a significant impact at the level of Rugby League we’re talking about.
In the early days especially, you need some experienced older heads to have any chance of being competitive, but what part-time player will be able to, or will want to, trek down to Cornwall every other week?
And if you have some players who aren’t based in the area and others who are and desperately need some intensive instruction, how do you stage the level of training sessions needed?
Setting up a team in Hemel Hempstead proved too hard, and that’s just off the M1.
Survival at semi-professional level has also been beyond Oxford and Gloucestershire All Golds, both a lot more accessible than Penryn, a place which, before a few days ago, very few Rugby League fans will have heard of.
To me, you may as well relocate to the moon.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.