NEW Zealand Test star Aaron Heremaia could finally make his Super League debut for Hull FC tomorrow – eight months after joining the East Yorkshire club.
The highly-regarded hooker was a major signing for the Black and Whites – who yesterday also completed the capture of Hull KR forward Liam Watts on a three-and-a-half year deal – from New Zealand Warriors having appeared in last season’s NRL Grand Final.
However, Heremaia injured his neck in his first pre-season game against Hull KR and was initially told he would miss two months of action.
Further investigations showed the injury was worse than first suggested and, at one point, the 29-year-old’s career looked in jeopardy.
Surgery and a careful period of rehabilitation, though, mean he is now ready to make his bow at Warrington Wolves but head coach Peter Gentle insisted: “If Aaron pulls up over the next couple of days, though, and feels he needs another week, then we’ll give it to him.
“We won’t be rushing him back at this stage and while Aaron is eager to get back out on the field, he also knows he has to be 100 per cent right.
“We are hopeful of him returning but after so long out we won’t be looking for 80 minutes from him.”
Heremaia’s availability has come at a good time given regular hooker Danny Houghton has been sidelined through injury.
Hull are also looking for their first win in four games with Gentle admitting his side’s defensive edge has disappeared – something that must be rediscovered against their prolific hosts.
“We have lost the enthusiasm we had in our defence earlier this season and we need to get it back,” added the Australian. “We’ve had a few players trying to solve problems on their own in recent weeks and if that’s the case on Sunday, Warrington will punish us.
“We need to get back to trusting each other and having the confidence to handle whatever is thrown at us as a team.”