Lee Radford has made a vow that Hull FC will be back with a vengeance in 2019.
Following their latest defeat at the hands of Castleford on Friday night, the Hull chief insists preparations for next season are well underway, admitting he and his coaching staff are going to leave no stone unturned to ensure they avoid a repeat of their disappointing end to the current season.
In a frank interview with League Express, Radford didn’t hide away from their miserable end to the season, which in no small part has been down to a severe injury count.
Their recent performances have seen both Radford and his team come in for criticism.
It comes as no surprise to the man himself, but he believes this year’s experience could well be the making of his side.
“My first year as a coach was the most important because it was so tough,” he said.
“But it made me a better coach, I promise you. I learnt more than I did when we won the Challenge Cup two years running. If we can get this hand dealt again we’ll be ready for it. It’s important sanity stays straight down the line. We will be stronger, we will get through it, and the young kids will be far, far better for it in 2019.
“Naturally, we’re copping it from every angle, but we’re making sure we stay as mentally strong as we can before next year’s pre-season.”
On pre-season, Radford insisted his side will be back in training early, a stark contrast to this season, with a large proportion of his players involved in the World Cup.
Radford believes part of the problem behind their injury woe this season has been their inability to have a proper pre-season going into the year, which as a result has left players more vulnerable to injury.
“What we have to do is ensure our players are more durable and on the field more in 2019.
“This isn’t a pop at the staff, they literally didn’t have the time to get them to the level of fitness. This year, I promise you, they will be in early and better shape from 2019.
“We look like a team that has played 74 games in two years, more than any other team. Our pre-season looks like a World Cup season, it looks like a season on 4G because our field was waterlogged, it looks like a trip to Australia. There are all sorts of reasons.
“83 per cent of our salary cap is used on our first 17 players. When you do the maths, when nine of those aren’t available, you’re in real trouble. I don’t care who you are. That’s the situation, ultimately.”
And on recruitment, with Adam Pearson’s comments leaving the rumour mill in overdrive, Radford simply said: “If we can better the squad, we will do. It’s as simple as that.”