Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis is confident his struggling side are capable of reaching the play-offs, despite sitting in 11th place, four points off the pace with only seven games of the season remaining.
Reflecting on Saturday’s disappointing defeat at the hands of Salford, in which the Airlie Birds put on a pair of second half fight backs before falling to the Red Devils, Ellis said the effort within the side is unquestionable but alone is not enough at this stage of the season.
“It was spirited, but that’s it. We’re a team who haven’t won enough games this year, which is clear to see by where we sit in the league table.
“We’ve got the ability, but just seem to struggle to find it at the right times in games. That’s something we need to address.
“We’ve got seven games left now, and we need to go out there and try and win every one of them. It’s been a disappointing year, but we need to finish as strongly as possible.”
The veteran was a notable absentee from the Airlie Birds side in Greater Manchester having been ruled out with injury, and admitted: “I was massively disappointed as I’d not missed any games through injury this year which has been a real plus for me.
“When you get to my age that’s pretty good, and I’ve only missed two games through suspension. To get to this stage of the year, particularly when we need a win and some good performances, not being out there on the field helping the team is really disappointing.
“It’s a matter of putting that to one side, and knowing I wouldn’t have been able to do a job while I was out there, so hopefully the lads that do go in get the opportunity to step up. I thought Dean Hadley had a great game.
“It just shows there’s always someone biting at your heels. He was fantastic, and certainly one for the future.”
The involvement of home-grown players such as Hadley has been a key component of Head Coach Lee Radford’s agenda since being appointed to the role last September, and Ellis added: “It certainly bodes well for the future, but it’s about now really; that’s what we’re focussing on as a group of players.
“It’s pleasing to see as the top teams over the last 10 years have shown that breeding home-grown talent and investing in the youth is the blueprint for success. Hull’s been a hotbed of rugby league for such a long time; the fact that it’s probably not had as many youngsters coming through is a disappointment.
“That’s something the new regime have focussed on, and hopefully over the next three to five years we’ll see that come to fruition and things can turn around for the club.”
However, the entire attention of the Black and Whites squad remains on the immediate task at hand as the season edges towards its conclusion with Hull needing to make ground up to secure a place in the play-offs.
Next up for the Airlie Birds as they continue that quest is a testing trip to face Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium on Friday night, and Ellis said: “We need to pick ourselves up as Wigan are one of the strongest teams in the competition.
“We need to be on our game, and not wait until we’re behind on the scoreboard before we have a crack; we need to find something right from the off. We’ve got the ability to compete and put ourselves in a position to win games, but we’ve just failed to do it on occasions this year.
“We’ve just not been able to find a way to win. That’s something we have to put right, and the sooner the better as it’s not good for anyone associated with the club to be so lowly in the league at this stage of the season.”
Ellis believes the Hull faithful can play a pivotal role in helping the side reach their full potential, and added: “Our away support this year has been absolutely fantastic, and it’s been a real pleasure to see so many fans come out to support us.
“The fans have really got out there, particularly when we had that run of away games, and brought us home in some good wins. They’ve just got to stick with us.
“I can understand how it’s disappointing, but that’s just how it is. I’m sure with the fan-base, with the youngsters coming through, and with the ambition of the club, that the future is bright.”