Hull FC add depth with Howarth signing

Hull FC have handed out-of-contract hooker Stuart Howarth the opportunity to continue his Super League career after agreeing a one-year deal with the former Salford man.
The Black and Whites were set to head into the new season with two home grown players at dummy half in Danny Houghton and James Cunningham, but head coach Lee Radford has moved to increased his options at hooker with a move for the 24-year-old.
Delighted with the chance to further his career in Super League, Howarth admitted he couldn’t wait to get going at the KC Stadium.
“Hull is one of the biggest clubs in the league so I’m really pleased that Lee Radford has been willing to offer me a deal at the club which I couldn’t be happier with,” he said.
“It is extremely pleasing to know that I’m back in a good environment with a Super League club again.
“I’m really looking forward to working closely with both Danny Houghton and James Cunningham. For me James is one of the best young hookers around at the minute and as for Danny, he is on par with James Roby and Mickey McIlorum as the best dummy half in the league.
“It will certainly be another huge learning curve especially after being under such a great coach in Kieron Cunningham, but I’m sure I’ll improve even more playing with Danny.”
Howarth continued, “To be offered the chance to join a side with the amount of history that Hull FC has, meant it really didn’t take much selling to me and I was desperate to be involved due to the size of the club.
“I have a great opportunity now and I’m over the moon to have committed my future to Hull.”
Howarth will add plenty of Super League experience to the squad having enjoyed four seasons in the top flight with Wakefield, St. Helens and Salford, having been one of the Wigan Warriors’ notable academy performers where he captained a team that included the likes of international star Sam Tomkins.
Having played alongside the England full back as a stand off, Howarth soon honed his skills at hooker where he made an immediate impact with the Wildcats and then Salford, playing 50 games in his first two seasons in Super League.
That form caught the attention of then Saints coach Nathan Brown who swooped to sign the No.9 on a season long loan in 2013 as Howarth helped them to the Super League play-offs, despite their squad being depleted with injuries.
He returned to Salford last season, but found his chances limited in the second half of the season when new coach Iestyn Harris arrived at the AJ Bell Stadium, which almost prompted a similar loan move back to 2013 title winners Wigan Warriors.
Howarth was released by the Reds in December to allow him to take up other options which included opportunities in rugby union, but the Black and Whites moved in to hand him another chance in Super League at the KC Stadium.
Speaking to, head coach Lee Radford said he has been monitoring Howarth in training and whilst it provides more cover at hooker, he is looking forward to seeing another player join the club with a point to prove.
“Stu’s managed to sort his release out from Salford finally and that has given us the chance to have a look at him. I think it represents really good business for us, he has come to us on a deal that represents excellent value and just shows how keen he was to make the most of the opportunity here.
“I’m really happy with where we are at, we feel our recruitment has gone well but hooker was probably the one position in the back of my mind where there was maybe a little doubt, if either Danny or James were to get injured.
“I see the decision to bring Stu in as being a proactive one rather than waiting for one of our nines to go down and have to throw a player in there at the deep end.
“I don’t want to rely on those guys to have to back-up 80 minute performances week in-week out should one get injured, so Stuart will offer us plenty of competition and cover there now and brings plenty of experience too.”
He added, “He comes with recommendations from people in the game that I trust. He is a natural leader despite only being 24, something that Motu [Tony] pointed out having played with him at Wakefield.”
“He’s tidy defensively, good on the ground and has good ruck management, ball in hand. He’s not express out of dummy half, but he can makes up for that with his game smarts and decision making.
“He has a point to prove which we like, no doubt he’ll want to prove a few people wrong. We’ve built a squad on players like that and when he gets his opportunity I’m sure he’ll take it. Considering his pedigree, experience and ability for his age and the value on our cap, I think it’s a steal of a deal for the club.”
The Black and Whites soon begin their pre-season friendly fixtures with matches against Doncaster and York next week and Radford added he is pleased with the makeup of the squad.
“We’re really happy with where we are at. Our recruitment has gone well and we’re probably about there now with Stuart joining us.
“The players have applied themselves really well, our combinations are looking promising and judging by some of our field sessions I think some of the big men just can’t wait to get a game under their belt now, so we’re looking forward to get going.
“It will be a good gauge of where we are at and the door is open for everyone to earn a spot. We’re getting more of an idea what our 17 will look like against Huddersfield in Round One, but that could all change over the next few weeks if players perform they know they have the chance to do that.”
Fans will get their first glimpse of Radford’s new look squad on home soil when they face rivals Hull KR for the Clive Sullivan Trophy on Sunday 18th January, including new signings Mark Minichiello, Leon Pryce, Marc Sneyd, Steve Michaels and Curtis Naughton.