Wakefield v Hull FC: Three big talking points ahead of 2017 for each side

Wakefield Trinity

Is Hirst ready for the big time?
Keegan Hirst emerged as arguably the best prop outside Super League in recent seasons at Batley. But can he cut it in the top flight and in a full-time environment?

Can they make the most of their young star before the big boys start sniffing around?
Tom Johnstone’s 20 tries in 25 games last season underlined his progress as one of the competition’s most dynamic players. He was crowned the 2016 Super League Young Player of the Year, while Max Jowitt was the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year. They also have James Batchelor as another rookie to watch in 2017.

Can a potential new home be the stimulus to bigger things?
Wakefield’s Belle Vue home is vintage, to say the least and it is to be hoped that long-awaited progress on a new stadium is finally made in 2017.

Hull FC

Can Albert Kelly be the man to take them to the next level?
The Aussie has crossed the great divide by joining the Black and Whites from bitter rivals Hull KR. He has been dogged by injuries, but his talent is not up for debate as he looks to form a potent partnership with Marc Sneyd. That partnership could be the key to Hull adding another trophy this season.

Was last year a one-off or are Hull genuine contenders?
Hull need to ensure last year was not a flash in the plan – and that means reaching at least one final in 2017. A tilt at Grand Final glory is what the club’s supporters expect and demand and they will be looking to get a good start to the season.

Can Gareth Ellis maintain his inspiring leadership?
Gareth Ellis was an inspiring captain for Hull in 2016 and the question is whether he can continue to produce such great performances week after week despite starting the season at the age of 35. With a host of youngsters trying to force their way into the squad, coach Lee Radford will be keeping his fingers crossed that his captain can avoid injury this season.