FOR all Hull FC have finally won at Wembley for the first time, if they do not also reach Old Trafford, this campaign will actually be deemed “disappointing”, according to prop Scott Taylor.
It seems farcical to suggest so – the Black and Whites not only ended their infamous prolonged wait for success in the Challenge Cup final at the national stadium last month, they also led Super League for most of the campaign.
That they missed out on top spot, and the League Leaders’ Shield, to Warrington Wolves last Friday does not detract from the fact their final position of third is the East Yorkshire club’s best since coming second in 2006 and a first championship since 1983 remains in sight.
Yet, if they do not navigate the difficult proposition of Wigan Warriors away in tomorrow’s semi-final to reach a first Grand Final in a decade, their 25-year-old front-row says ultimately there will be a sense of failure.
“I personally feel like that,” Taylor told The Yorkshire Post, despite also becoming one of six players from Lee Radford’s side to make the 2016 Super League Dream Team earlier this week.
“The position we’ve put ourselves in in the league – got in that top-four, just missed out on claiming top spot – and being the most consistent team all year makes me think not reaching the Grand Final would be a disappointment.
“Personally, as a team, I do still think we’ve been the most consistent all year especially with the cup run we’ve had as well. And I’m sure fans will see it as a successful season.
“But, for me, we have to now make that Grand Final. I’d think we should be playing there come October and would see it as a disappointment overall if we’re not.
“We don’t want to be remembered as a team that just won at Wembley and nothing else.”
That demanding mindset of Taylor – a driving force behind his hometown’s resurgence following his move from Wigan last autumn – perhaps shows the strides Radford has made in changing the mentality of his players. Nevertheless, since Wembley, they have endured arguably their most unedifying run of the campaign, winning just once in four fixtures to leave many onlookers believing they are a spent force ripe to be exploited by second-placed Wigan come Friday.
Taylor – who completed the same trophy double Hull are chasing now with Wigan in 2013 – admitted there has been some heavy-leggedness.
“Obviously, you put a lot into Wembley; the build up of it all, the emotion of how big games go,” said the former Hull Kingston Rovers player.
“We’ve played 34 competitive games this year – that’s a lot – the highs and emotions of it and the come down after winning it.
“Then going into a game the week after with your opponents having had a week off, fully fit, while we’d been in a bruising 80 minutes game with Warrington.
“Then you have Warrington, frustrated from their Wembley defeat, a chip on the shoulder, who came out firing Friday night and blew us out of the water.
“We need to recuperate, react and I think we have done.”
That, of course, was an epic Challenge Cup semi-final in July when Hull edged Shaun Wane’s side 16-12 at Doncaster while they also hold the experience of winning at Wigan in May.
That said, Warriors have won twice at the KCOM Stadium this term to leave this fixture finely balanced.
Taylor, hoping to earn his England debut in the Four Nations, recalled: “I think defensively, the Cup semi was our best display and one of the best defensive performances I’ve ever been a part of. But we were pretty poor in attack at times.
“Arguably our best performance this season was away at Saints in the Cup or maybe earlier in the year at Catalans when we went there and were unbelievable. But that was because our attack was so crisp.
“Friday will be a battle of defences; I don’t think it’ll be a night for 40 points and every time we play Wigan it’s a tight, close game.
“We didn’t play well enough last week and know that.
“They deserved it but we know we’re 80 minutes from a Grand Final and we don’t want to be finishing our season on Friday.”