Hull FC land forward coup ahead of Super League rivals

HULL FC have landed a forward coup ahead of their Super League rivals ahead of the 2024 season.

28-year old Samoa and New Zealand international prop Herman Ese’ese will join the club from The Dolphins next season, having signed a three-year deal with the Black & Whites.

With over 125 NRL appearances under his belt, the powerhouse ball-playing middle believes his best football is ahead of him as he heads for East Yorkshire next season.

“I’m really excited to be making the move; I’ve always wanted to come over to Super League and test myself on that side of the world. I’m only 28 years-old and feel like I’m in the prime of my career right now, so I’m thrilled to be spending the next three years with Hull,” Herman told in his first interview since signing for the club.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to wear the Black & White jersey, and play for a club with such a rich history – I can’t wait to work with Tony and get amongst it with the lads.

He added: “Growing up, you always dream of playing in the NRL and playing at an international level. But now I want to come to Super League while I’ve got some of my best years ahead of me. I didn’t want to come over too late in my career – I still have a lot of footy to give and I want to do that with a great club.

“I want to come over there and play my part in helping the team get better every single week. I want to be a team player – I like to think I’m a strong ball carrier and I like to break tackles and offload; with some good leg speed and strong defence too, I’m hoping I can make an impact as an attacking middle.

“I want to lead from the front and use my experience to our advantage too. Hull has some great talent and I want to help make them better – I love taking on more responsibility.”

Hull fought off competition from several other Super League clubs to land Ese’ese signature, with the Kiwi-born prop saying the nature of the club’s approach played a role in his decision, as well as the opportunity to work with Tony Smith.

“I’ve had discussions with other Super League clubs, but the chat I had with James Clark and Tony Smith really stood out. The club have been interested in me for a few years now, so that commitment and persistence, and the hard work put in behind the scenes to make this move happen made me decide that this is where I want to be.

“I liked how the club approached me and my partner and my manager, not putting any pressure on me, but being clear in the vision that the club has.”

On Smith, he continued: “Tony will get the best football out of me. I’ve heard form so many other coaches about the sort of coach that he is, including from our assistant at the Dolphins, Kristin Woolf, who has said plenty of great things about him to me.

“My uncle Ali Lauiti’iti played under Tony at Leeds and says he is the best coach he’s ever played under.”

Having admired the club from a distance for a number of years, Ese’ese says he is ready to become part of the strong culture at the MKM Stadium, and get involved with both the fan base, and the club’s younger talent.

“Having always been a keen watcher of Super League, Hull FC has always been a team I’ve kept an eye on. I admire their desire and grit, and it’s a side that has a lot of potential at the moment.

“From what I’ve seen on TV, the fans are incredibly passionate about their team – that’s great to see and I can’t wait to experience playing in front of them and feeling that energy. I want to play some great footy for them.

“I’ve heard a lot about those Hull Derby games – everyone over here who knows anything about it compares it to State Of Origin. I can’t wait to hopefully be involved in some of those battles – I’ll be counting down the days on the calendar as soon as the fixtures come out! There’s so much history between the two sides, and a rivalry like that is brilliant for the city.

“Across all grades, the club is moving in a good direction and I want to come over and help continue and be a part of that; I’m really keen to get involved with the academy and help share my knowledge and experience with them too.”

Born in New Zealand, but with Samoan heritage, Ese’ese will be aiming to emulate the likes of previous Kiwi greats who have come before him in West Hull, including the likes of James Leuluai, Richard Swain and Sika Manu.

“The club has a great connection with New Zealand over the years – some really wonderful players and I hope I can just be myself and one day be considered in the same conversations as some of those iconic Kiwi players who have pulled on a Hull FC jersey.”

And on the prospect of linking up with fellow Samoan/New Zealander Ligi So in the pack, he added: “I know Ligi having played against him growing up – I can’t wait to link up and rub shoulders with him. He’s a senior player now and has plenty of experience on both sides of the world and internationally.”

With a final message to the Black & White supporters, Ese’ese said: “I can’t wait to get over there, pull on that famous Black & White jersey, and play my best footy for the best fanbase in Super League. I’ll give it my all for the club and do everything I can to make this team better and get us to where we want to be. I’m so excited to meet everyone, rip in, and get ready for some exciting times ahead.”