Jake Connor is putting friendship to one side as he aims to help Hull FC begin the Brett Hodgson era in style.
The Black and Whites start their Super League campaign this Sunday lunchtime with a Headingley showdown against Huddersfield Giants, Connor’s former club.
The versatile 26-year-old international, who is set to start the season at fullback as Jamie Shaul recovers from a knee injury, was with the Giants from 2013 to 2016.
“I had a great time at Huddersfield. I learned a lot, and I’m still in touch with a few of the lads like Joe Wardle, who I used to travel in with, Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary,” he explained.
“There’s always a few texts flying around between us all, but when the matches come around, it’s a serious business, because we all want to win.”
Hull’s new Australian coach Hodgson is also a former Huddersfield player, but had left for Warrington by the time Connor made the first-team squad after graduating from the Giants’ development system.
Now the Halifax-born star, who has previously played at stand-off and centre, is picking up plenty of tips from the one-time Parramatta, Wests Tigers and New South Wales fullback, who was Super League Man of Steel with Huddersfield in 2009.
“I’m learning a lot of things from him and he’s probably one of the smartest blokes I’ve come across,” explained Connor, who switched to fullback during last season and says he enjoys the unique challenges of the role.
“Brett made it look very easy, but in reality, it’s a really tough position to play. It takes a lot of energy and hard work, and he keeps reminding that if other team scores, it’s my fault.
“But I like the position more than I thought I would, mainly because I’m always happy when I’ve got the ball in my hands. I’ll be trying to get upfield and create opportunities on the edges.”
Connor, believed to be in the early stages of talks about an extension to his Hull contract, which is in its final year, set up two tries in the pre-season win at York, where stand-off Josh Reynolds, newly arrived from Wests Tigers, made his first appearance.
“It was our only warm-up game, so it was important,” he said.
“We learned a few things, and identified a few areas to improve on, and now we’re putting them into practice.
“Josh played well, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. He is a leader, he has a great reputation and so far he has backed it up.”
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