Ask Jamie Shaul what his ultimate goal is and he’ll tell you that it is to walk out at Old Trafford.
To date, an appearance at the Theatre of Dreams has alluded the 25-year-old. Back-to-back defeats in the play-off semi-finals have been enough to prevent him fulfilling his ambition with Hull FC.
However, each year presents a new opportunity, and 2018 is absolutely no different. Lee Radford’s side enters the new campaign once again in search of the same goal, this time hoping it will be third time lucky.
However, Shaul, despite his young years, has an experienced head on his shoulders. While the glamour fixtures at the end of the year are the games everyone strives to be a part of, the fullback knows that the regular grind during the cold winter months will have as much bearing on Hull’s hopes.
Their season starts with the visit of Huddersfield on Thursday, a side Hull have replaced as the Grand Final bridesmaids in the last few years.
Shual, however, is determined to drop that tag this year.
“To ever walk out at Old Trafford would be unbelievable,” he admitted.
“Speaking to a few of the boys that have won at Old Trafford, lads like Scott Taylor say it’s unreal and bigger than Wembley.
“But it’s one of them where you have to get through all these stages then peak at the end of the season to do that.
“Having your squad fit helps but it’s more on the coaching side. I remember back in 2016 when we won at Wembley for the first time, I was mentally and physically gone by the end. We managed it much better last year and just fell at the final hurdle, but we can make that right this year.”
Away from Hull matters, Shaul still awaits an opportunity at international level. Despite the withdrawal of Zak Hardaker from England’s plans for the World Cup, the fullback was overlooked for the tournament, despite his impressive campaign.
Many pushed heavily for his inclusion but he conceded that he never expected to make the cut. Even now, with Hardaker out of the picture, it’s not a goal in his sights.
“I never thought I would get picked to be honest. Other people were putting it in my head but I wasn’t sat by the phone. I’ll move on and try to kick on this year and push myself into the squad.
“There’s no bigger honour but I haven’t set any targets to make the squad.
“It’s always in the back of the mind if you’re playing well. But it’s not in my goals, I think we have some great fullbacks as it is. If I’m consistent, you never know.”