Hull FC star Jake Connor admitted that there must be vast improvements from their 2018 performance, but does not share the same rigid approach to his own personal development.
The 24-year-old made a try-scoring England debut against New Zealand in Denver last year and was also named Hull FC’s Supporters and Players Player of the Year, but he deemed the whole team performance, himself included, unsatisfactory.
Lee Radford’s side endured an eleven game losing run at the back end of the 2018 season, which included demolitions at the hands of Wakefield Trinity and Warrington Wolves. Their last victory in the league came in June, against Widnes, and there is no surprise the squad are hoping for better fortunes next year.
But Connor, who joined Hull FC in 2017 in a transfer fiasco involving Huddersfield Giants, admitted his own spike in performance has been due to a relaxed attitude to his game and playing a flexible style at halfback.
“Pre-season is always tough and we’ve just had to get on with what’s been put in place and put that plan in place for next season,” he said.
“The main goal is for the team to perform better. And obviously there’s improvements for me too, but I don’t really set my own targets.
“I just want to play the same way just better. That’s how I’ve improved my game, just by letting it happen. As I’ve got older, I’ve matured and I feel like I did a lot more last year.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an organiser. I’ve always wanted to do things off the cuff and not play to a rigid style. I always want to be that one to change the game and sometimes that means doing something a little risky, but I’m just going to stick to doing that.
“I think my attitude has changed off the pitch. Being with England this year made me realise what it takes to be a leader and what you want from them.
“I’m not saying I want to be that at Hull FC, I’m still young, but I’ve gotten to the point now where there’s people a lot younger than me who will look up to me. You want to see people follow your footsteps one day.
Initially signed as a centre, Connor has nudged himself into the halves to become one of the star men at Hull FC, with Marc Sneyd and Albert Kelly previously having a sturdy partnership.
But, now a place in the halves is his preferred position, Connor admits that the competition for the six and seven spot is a healthy dimension to the squad.
“It’s always good to have that competition. Manchester City in football have world class players on the bench every week. That’s sport. It makes you compete against each other in a productive way.
“Ultimately, you’re fighting for a spot and that’s what you have to do. You don’t have anything against each other we all play sport to win.
“I’m probably the best when I’ve got the ball in hand, at centre you don’t get that. In the halves I get the ball more. It wasn’t a conscious move, it just happened. I was never really a halfback, I just learned pretty quickly how to play the position.
“The position has evolved and it’s suited to backs more. You only need one organiser. We’ve got Sneyd, and then there’s players like Matty Smith and Danny Brough. Then you want as many runners off the back of them as possible.”