Hull FC will bounce into Saturday’s derby with Hull KR on a wave of positivity despite a four-match losing run, according to their coach Brett Hodgson.
An under-strength Hull side was beaten 31-16 in Perpignan on Friday, but Hodgson believes the Airlie Birds are ready to fly once more with the return of several senior players from injury, suspension and Covid isolation.
Hull’s patched-up squad containing teenage debutants were full value for their half-time 10-14 lead at Catalans Dragons, but a late fightback from the Super League leaders resulted in defeat.
But Hodgson was happy with his team’s performance and he believes a win is just around the corner, starting this Saturday.
“We’re a weakened team but we’ll get some players back next week and try to gain some momentum for the rest of the season,” Hodgson told League Express.
“The derby is always a must-win game and we will prepare well during the week and give ourselves every chance of winning.
“We are clearly missing players like Jake Connor, who got injured in that international game and he hasn’t played since. It’s put a speed-bump in our season, but now is the time to take whatever positives we can from that period and really give ourselves a bounce going into the back end of the season.
“There is a pleasing optimism among the group that we are not far away and today is just another step forward I believe.”
An inspired performance by 19-year-old Ben McNamara at scrum-half was nearly enough to upset his father Steve’s Dragons team at Stade Gilbert Brutus. Hodgson was full of praise for the efforts of the youngsters drafted into the side to replace missing senior players.
“Our effort was outstanding and we worked really hard for each other.
“It was good to see young players like Marcus Walker out there; he had some really good touches, but as a group we just weren’t good enough and there’s a reason why Catalans are the number one team in the competition.
“I’m proud of Marcus, he got thrown in at the deep end.”
Hodgson was also impressed with stand-off Josh Reynolds, adding: “Josh was rattled with the Covid situation, he has been out for a period of time and that affects your fitness. Josh wears his heart on his sleeve and he gets upset when he’s not performing to the best of his ability.
“But he’s proud to wear the jersey and today was another step forward for him.
“I thought he led the way with some of his effort and nice pieces of skill.
“He got us back into the contest at crucial times in terms of his game management and his effort was excellent.
“His kicking game was good and at the same time Ben (McNamara) was on target too.
“I’m really proud of the effort we showed.
“We’ll learn from that and take it into the derby this weekend.”
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