TONY SMITH hopes Jamie Shaul’s injury setback won’t prove too much of a problem as the long-serving fullback strives to get his Hull FC career back on track in his testimonial year.
But centre Connor Wynne is set to miss the start of the season (the Black and Whites open at home to Castleford on Sunday, February 19) after picking up an ankle problem in training.
England international Shaul, 30, made his debut for his home-city club back in 2013, and went on to feature in the Challenge Cup final wins of 2016, scoring a key try against Warrington, and 2017, when Wigan were defeated back at Wembley.
But he was left out in the cold under Brett Hodgson last season, and sent out on loan to Wakefield, where he made five appearances and helped Trinity stave off the threat of relegation from Super League.
There was talk of a permanent move, but ex-Skirlaugh player Shaul is back in black and white and going into the final year of his current contract having reignited his passion for the club under Smith’s tutelage.
He was in line to feature in Hull’s opening pre-season game at Sheffield, only to be ruled out by a calf injury.
Smith, however, who was appointed in succession to Hodgson in September and tasked with reviving the club after finishes of eighth and ninth respectively, reckons he’ll be ready to head back to Wakefield for another pre-season run-out on Sunday week, February 5 (2pm), when the two sides will contest the David Topliss Trophy.
“Jamie will be back running again this week,” he said.
“We just had to take him out last week, which was a real shame, because he’d been training terrifically. He’d been ripping it up and recording best-evers in tests.
“We’ll be working to get him right and he’ll more than likely be good to go for the Wakefield game.”
Wynne, who recently turned 22, scored nine tries in 19 games last year.
“Connor got a twist of the ankle that is going to cause him maybe seven weeks of recuperation,” explained Smith.
“It’s not ideal for either party, but these things happen when you get into contact in training.”
Meanwhile, Smith has named long-serving centre Carlos Tuimavave as captain.
“Carlos holds a huge amount of respect across the squad,” said Smith.
“There were a number of candidates who were considered for the captaincy, but he has a calmness about him which made him suitable for the role.
“He is respected for what he has done, and what he does in terms of his professionalism and setting an example in training
“He would be the first to say that he needs the support of others in the group, as any captain does – it’s an honour and a privilege, but he needs the support of others who hold those leadership qualities, and he’ll have that from a lot of people within the group.
“He has been brilliant in the time I have been here, and he has been here across his time at the club – he’s been someone I’ve certainly admired when I’ve been at other clubs.”