Pre-season hype has gone to our heads, admits Hull star Tickle

Danny Tickle
Danny Tickle
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This was supposed to be a seminal year for Hull FC yet they are currently languishing in 12th spot. England forward Danny Tickle tells Dave Craven that they only have themselves to blame

HULL FC’s Danny Tickle admits the club’s below-par performances so far are because the players have fallen in love with themselves after being tipped by so many to be Super League challengers.

They entertain Castleford Tigers this evening having failed to live up to any of the pre-season fanfare and having won just one of their opening five fixtures.

Considering the extensive outlay on their squad, with Australian playmaker Daniel Holdsworth, ex-Hull KR captain Ben Galea and England star Gareth Ellis – who, admittedly, has yet to feature due to injury – all joining, it has all been an anti-climax.

But second-row Tickle, who has been at the KC Stadium for seven years, believes it was inevitable after the squad started believing their own publicity.

In a frank admission, he told the Yorkshire Post: “Everyone involved here at Hull FC was excited at the start and with all the hype about us being a top-four side.

“But I think all that hype has gone to our heads. We’ve been getting ahead of ourselves and just taking too many short cuts.

“That’s in training during the week and it’s showing on a weekend.

“If we ever hope to achieve what we want, it comes down to hard work and we need to take it personally on each other to get the best out of each other.

“That means worrying about our own job and not worrying about who’s in and who’s out of the team.

“We have to come together and do everything right over 80 minutes. And then results will take care of themselves.”

Hull’s inability to produce a full 80-minute performance has been a continual source of frustration for head coach Peter Gentle, with periods of clear dominance too often undone by lapses which then escalate uncontrollably.

He hopes the return of Holdsworth, after missing Saturday’s embarrassing 36-16 loss at Widnes and previously the Warrington defeat through concussion, plus the addition of some steel with England Knights prop Liam Watts fit for the first time this season, will help.

But Tickle concedes the onus is on the squad to right the wrongs.

“Every game is hard and we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can just turn up at Widnes and roll them over by 40 points,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say it was a shock to anyone what happened there; we’d been under-performing and it’s been coming.

“We were in the game at half-time leading 8-6 but the second half performance again let us down and to put one in like we did was just unacceptable.

“The only people who can fix that is the guys out there staying in the arm wrestle, completing our sets, finishing with good kicks and defending correctly.

“These are the issues at the minute. Our focus is putting that to one side and concentrating on what we do against Cas.”

Their opponents have yet to win on their travels but have been excellent at home.

“Rangi Chase has every trick in the book, they pushed Wigan real close and could have won last week and they did beat Leeds but we won’t worry too much about them,” continued Tickle.

“We know its ourselves we have to concern ourselves with and the lads have trained well this week.

“We all took it personally what happened on Saturday and realise if we focus on putting our own game right we won’t be far off.”

Tickle is working his way back to full fitness after a torturous spell on the sidelines.

He tore his bicep against Huddersfield Giants on the first day of July last year but returned for the last game of the regular season against Castleford only to suffer a relapse which saw him miss the play-offs and opening three rounds of this campaign.

“It’s been a long time not playing – seven months excluding that Castleford game – but I’m happy with my training and have played the last couple of games off the bench,” added the ex-Halifax and Wigan forward.

“I got 30 minutes, then 40 and have been playing in the middle, too, to get my speed and match fitness up. It’s all down to the coach if I start against Cas but I think I’m putting myself in a good position.”

The goal-kicker, who turns 30 next month, was named in the England elite training squad on Tuesday, having made his debut against the Exiles last summer.

“Getting a phone call back then was a shock and I didn’t know what to expect this time but getting in a 30-man squad means nothing at the minute,” he said.

“It’s nice to be named but there’s a lot of quality players playing well at the moment.

“We’ll meet up next week and have a get-together to look at plans for the World Cup but if you want to be involved in that at the end of the year it’s what you do for your club week to week that counts.

“I’m going to give myself every chance to play in that World Cup. That means making sure I’m 100 per cent every week here at Hull.”