Last to focus on younger players

Hull FC’s interim coach Andy Last believes the club must follow the lead of Super League’s big hitters if they want to consistently finish at the top, and that means providing an environment for their young stars to prosper.

Last watched on as some of the club’s top young talent impressed in their victory over Wakefield on Thursday.

The likes of Connor Wynne and Jack Brown (pictured) have produced promising performances since lockdown, with Last happy to see them emerge as important first-team players.

Last has assured them they will get more opportunities and he is adamant that the prolonged success of St Helens, Leeds and Wigan is down to their conveyer belt of homegrown talent.

“I think that’s the blueprint for a successful club,” Last said,

“Having a good production line of talent coming through who understand the blueprint of the club, buy into what the DNA is about in terms of work ethic, discipline and attitude and once they get into that first-team environment, we don’t just want them to fill a hole we want them to excel and showcase they’re not just steady Super League players, but they can be more than that and make a difference.

“It’s no surprise that St Helens are sat at the top because they bring good players through their system and Wigan are the same. Leeds, that was their blueprint and where they got the golden generation from. They’ve had a tough couple of years but they’ve given them an opportunity to play and now they’re reaping the rewards and looking like a competent team that will be challenging for years to come.”

Last believes there is a caveat to that.

“You look at St Helens when the kids have gone in, the top players are playing well and they’re winning games, so it makes it easier to blood those young guys. We’ve got to get our best players performing better, winning games and when those kids come in the senior guys pick up some of the slack.

“You need your top liners playing towards their value at an eight or nine out of 10. That’s evident when you look at the Saints team, they drop in a few boys but Jonny Lomax still plays outstandingly well, Alex Walmsley and James Graham do too, so those young guys get some confidence from playing with those players at the top of their game.”

That’s where Last believes Hull have perhaps fallen short in years gone by.

“When I look back at a player who has been part of our system, Lewis Bienek, he came with huge potential and promise but went into a team struggling in 2018. He’s playing in a team losing week in, week out, the senior players are low on confidence and form and from no fault of his own he’s not been close to getting back to those opportunities.

“He’s a prime example why you need your best players taking up the biggest value on your salary cap playing nine out of ten every week, then when you bring these young kids in you accept they’re going to make more mistakes because they’re not established.”

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