Tony Smith ‘making inroads’ in Hull FC culture change – but work still to do

TONY SMITH believes he is “making inroads” with the culture at Hull FC, but he knows he needs to keep working on it with every week.

Smith took over as head coach ahead of this season with an aim to put Hull among the top clubs in Super League.

A difficult start, including a seven-match losing run, means they are scrambling to achieve that on the field this year by finishing in the play-offs.

But while winning eight of their last 13 in the league ahead of Saturday’s game against Warrington Wolves – losing none by more than two scores since playing Leeds Rhinos, their opponents again this Saturday at the MKM Stadium, in mid-April – Smith is seeing progress.

“We need to be that team that fights right to the death. It just needs to be part of our DNA, part of what we’re about as a club and a team,” he said.

“Whether we win or not, we need to be that team that tries its hardest.

“When you can look each other in the eye in the dressing room after the game and say ‘we gave it everything’, that’s all I can ask of the players.

“We’re better at it, but unless you work on that each week, you lose it. That’s the thing about culture. 

“It becomes easier the more you do it, but you’ve still got to feed it and you’ve still got to nurture it with the right stuff for it to keep growing. 

“You can’t just assume that you’re there. When you stop doing some those things, you lose it again. 

“Culture is one of those intangibles that you need to take care of and address every week and make it grow. 

“Once you get it and you keep it growing, then it can do some pretty special things for you.”

Smith, who last week secured Canterbury Bulldogs forward Jayden Okunbor on a two-year contract from next season, is aware of the work still to be done before Hull have the reputation of other clubs he seeks to emulate.

“Eventually we want to be one of those clubs that are talked about like the big four or five,” he added.

“We’re a bit off that yet, in terms of how we’ve performed and where we are as a club. We’ve got to work hard to get into that position. 

“The only way to do that is by having a good work ethic and being one of those teams that are respected on the field. 

“You can do whatever you want off the field and talk about this, that and everything else, but it’s about how you perform on the field and you get to the point where you are one of the teams that are respected because of the way that you play. 

“We’re making some inroads but we’re not there yet. We’ve got to work hard on that.”