Hull FC coach Lee Radford has stressed he’s nothing to suggest that star half-back Albert Kelly’s dreaded second-season gremlins will rear their head in 2018.
Kelly was magnificent for Hull in his debut season with the club, eventually being shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award after guiding the Black and Whites to a top-four finish, as well as another Challenge Cup triumph.
However, after an impressive first year with Gold Coast in 2013, Kelly was then banned in 2014 for his part in the Cronulla Sharks drug scandal. He then moved to Hull KR, where he was sensational in his debut year before eventually being suspended in the latter part of 2016 for a breach of club discipline.
Radford, however, told League Express he has been delighted with Kelly ever since he arrived at the KCOM Stadium.
“Physically he’s in a really good spot,” he said.
“I jokingly said to him that in his second season he turns into a gremlin that shouldn’t eat after midnight! But I haven’t seen any signs of that yet which is great – but then again, I got told he was a wrong ‘un when we signed him and there’s been none of that at all since he arrived through the door.”
Radford also admits he’s eager to see how much progress his young players have made over the last year when they return to action this weekend – saying he’s not worried should his senior players not feature at all throughout pre-season.
The Black and Whites kick off their pre-season campaign against newly-promoted Hull KR on Sunday.
The corresponding fixture 12 months ago saw a youthful Hull side lose 40-16, and Radford told League Express that pre-season will again be predominantly focussed around his up-and-coming players, hinting that some of his senior stars may not feature at all until their Super League opener next month.
“We got our backside handed to us 12 months ago in that game so I’m looking forward to seeing the progression those players have made in the last year.
“Jordan Lane, Dean Hadley and Brad Fash in particular have trained really well – I’m looking forward to seeing them play.”
And on his senior players – several of whom are still recovering from the World Cup – Radford added: “I don’t have an issue with the fact that they won’t play. We played 39 games last year which is an unbelievable amount of rugby. I really aren’t too fussed if they miss the odd friendly.”