Denive big on defence as key season looms

TEENAGE Hull FC hooker Denive Balmforth has been brushing up on his defence as the Black and Whites prepare for their first outing under coach Tony Smith.

Sheffield is the destination on Sunday (3pm) for the first of two pre-season games, with a trip to Wakefield a fortnight later, February 5 (2pm) following before the big league opener at home to Castleford on Sunday, February 19.

Balmforth is aiming to build on four first-team appearances last season (he scored a try on his debut in the 48-12 home win over Toulouse in April), after also shining in the Academy competition as Hull made the play-off semi-finals.

And the 19-year-old, who rolled off the renowned production line at community club Stanningley before spending time in the Warrington development system, is doing everything he can to improve his game, with the potential to eventually become the long-term replacement for Hull’s veteran hooker Danny Houghton.

“Defence is a really big thing for me and it’s something I need to spend a lot of time working on,” said Balmforth, who is among twelve young players featured on pages 14 and 15 of this issue of League Express as rookies to watch closely in 2023.

“They’re the small details that if you get right, can make a significant difference.

“We’ve been smashing out a lot of defensive drills in pre-season to try and fine-tune things.

“But there are still bits for me to be working on and I’m always keen to improve, so that’s what I’ll be striving for this year.”

Balmforth was signed from Warrington on a two-year contract in March, and he is enjoying his first pre-season at Hull.

“I would have to admit that I wasn’t the best version of myself last year and a lot of that was down to my fitness, so there’s been a big emphasis on that for me this time around,” he told the club website.

“The conditioning staff have been awesome, building us up nicely. The work will continue and I’m sure it will become even more intense to prepare us for the start of the season.”

This article comes from this week’s issue of League Express. You can take out a subscription by going to