Hull v Hull KR: Campese eager to impress in huge Hull derby

STAR PERFORMER: Hull Kingston Rovers' Terry Campese, running the game against Wigan Warriors, has had a taste of what's in store in the pre-season frendly against Hull FC. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

STAR PERFORMER: Hull Kingston Rovers' Terry Campese, running the game against Wigan Warriors, has had a taste of what's in store in the pre-season frendly against Hull FC. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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RARELY can a player have had such a profound effect on one club inside just seven games.

When Hull KR announced earlier this week that stand-off Terry Campese, their Australian signing from Canberra Raiders and captain, had signed a new two-year deal, the relief from their faithful was tangible.

He may only have been here since January but the silky half-back has been so good in that short time that those Rovers supporters could hardly bear to contemplate the prospect he might be gone just as quickly. Likewise head coach Chris Chester.

Campese had only signed an initial 12 month contract so it was easy to see why a raft of Super League rivals in need of a classy playmaker – he has created six tries in those opening seven appearances – may have been circling.

However, instead, the 30-year-old opted to sign on in East Yorkshire again and give his club the perfect lift ahead of tonight’s crucial derby at fierce rivals Hull FC.

Their hosts may be joint-bottom but Super League is so close this term that if the Black and Whites pick up a victory they could oust the Robins from eighth spot and maybe even Castleford Tigers in seventh.

Campese played in the Clive Sullivan Trophy pre-season match between the sides at KC Stadium in January and told The Yorkshire Post: “That was probably the craziest friendly I’ve ever been involved in in my life and I guess that is only a taste of what’s going to happen on Thursday.

“I can’t wait for it. I’ve already seen the banter building up between both sides and the whole city stops for this.

“It’s going to be a huge game and I think there will be a massive defensive focus from each going into it.

“Where we are both in the table, also, means it is going to be important for us both, too.”

Campese, who has won a raft of man-of-the-match awards for his guile and creativity, could cause big problems for Hull especially considering their depleted opponents’ ongoing injury problems.

But the former New South Wales State of Origin has been told in no uncertain terms by his colleagues, who have experienced this famous battle before, that such things matter little when it comes to the derby.

Rovers – who lost the corresponding fixture 28-0 last August – prepared for this contest with a brilliant win over champions St Helens last Friday, a third successive home win, but are still without an away victory.

Granted, it is barely six miles across the city tonight but, given the heated reception they will receive, it could feel like a war zone on the other side of the world.

Either way, Hull KR realise how priceless any win will be.

“It is good what we did versus Saints and we’ve beaten Wigan already this year and Catalans,” said Campese. “But then we’ve fallen away the next week so we haven’t won two games in a row.

“That is a massive focus for us going into the game. We have to be at our best.”

He seems to be at his best if some of the eye-catching displays in a narrow defeat at Warrington and an inspired display in victory over Wigan are anything to go by.

Often, it takes Australian players time to settle in Super League but he has adjusted instantly and his bold, confident attacking style certainly suits the competition.

“I think the side is to thank for that,” he said, Campese being one of six Australian signings.

“The boys have welcomed us Aussies in, we’ve had 13 new guys in total which I think also helped as we had to bond quite quickly, and credit to the coaching staff, (CEO) Mike Smith and the directors for the culture they have set at the club.

“All we can do is get out there, prepare the best we can and play the best football we can to repay them for getting us over here and putting their faith in us.”

That was part of the reason Campese – whose career stuttered in the NRL following some serious injuries – this week decided to stay in east Hull until the end of 2017 at least.

With his partnership with daring scrum-half Albert Kelly improving each game, he does feel like he is playing some of the finest rugby of his career ahead of tonight’s match-up with Hull’s ex-Great Britain No 6 Leon Pryce.

“After a couple of knee surgeries I wasn’t at my best back home and was probably inconsistent with my football,” he recalled. “But I am happy with the way I am going so far here and being consistent is the main thing for me.

“A lot of credit, again, has to go to the team; we beat the league leaders last week with only two fit front-rowers so that shows the heart of these boys and I am excited to be staying here. It was an easy decision in the end.”

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