Jake Clifford capture adds to Tony Smith’s anticipation for Hull FC start

NEW Hull FC coach Tony Smith has enjoyed playing the waiting game as he prepares for his first pre-season on the West side of the city.

The seasoned Australian coach, who has brought in compatriot and Newcastle Knights halfback Jake Clifford, was appointed in mid-September, ten weeks after departing Hull KR.

Training starts next Monday, November 7, and the 55-year-old, who aims to improve the fortunes of a club who have made the play-offs only once in the last five years, has been busy getting to know players and fellow staff members.

Brett Hodgson’s successor reckons it has been a productive period, explaining: “I’m looking forward to when training actually starts, but I find this particular stage fascinating and enlightening.

“It’s also very educational, and I have learned so much in the brief time that I have spent at the club so far. I have absolutely loved every moment.

“There have been a lot of meetings and a lot of developing of relationships within our organisation.

“That’s the part I love about Rugby League – developing those relationships.”

Cairns-born Clifford, 24, has spent the last two seasons at Newcastle, having started his career at North Queensland Cowboys.

He played at stand-off for the Prime Minister’s XIII against the Fijian equivalent in Suva in 2018.

Clifford has signed a two-year deal, with the option of a third in the club’s favour, and follows Knights teammate, fullback or halfback Tex Hoy, to the MKM Stadium.

“When Hull approached me, they made me feel I was wanted and that was a massive appealing factor,” he said.

“I’ve got my mate Tex heading over as well, so I’m looking forward to linking up with him again.

“I’ve heard some good things from Tony Smith too and there are some great players at the club with a lot of special talent.”

Smith said: “I think Jake is a terrific young halfback with a lot of capabilities, and he has had some success already at his young age in the best Rugby League competition in the world.

“We can help each other and I think he’ll be great for the team.

“He’s got a great kicking game, a strong running game and a very good passing game, so he possesses a lot of quality attributes that will complement us.”