HULL FC vice-captain Danny Houghton has urged his side to show a mean streak and pugilistic quality as they seek to finally deliver on their potential.
No one has suffered the pain more than the homegrown hooker in recent seasons as the Airlie Birds continually fail to make good on their promises.
A new campaign starts at Huddersfield Giants tomorrow and the tireless England Knights international, who has always battled valiantly for the cause, concedes they have to start getting tough.
“I hope we are a bit nastier this season,” said Houghton, who was helpless as Hull slipped to 11th in 2014.
“I think in previous years we have lacked somebody who has a bit of mongrel about them, who wants to go out and fight a few people.
“I think this year in our pack the like of Liam Watts has stood up for us and we’ve got a really good balance now. There’ is some more aggression there.”
He hopes that will be seen tomorrow but admits it does not matter how they prosper, as long as they get off on a winning note.
Houghton’s battle with ex-England hooker Shaun Lunt should be a key contest in the fixture as Hull go up against a side that finished joint-second last time out.
“It doesn’t matter to us if we win by one point or 20,” he added. “I’m not bothered if we even win ugly. All we are interested in is a win to get us up and running.
“In our pre-season friendly games we have looked good in patches. I feel physically and with our structure we are there, we just need to get it to click over 80 minutes. Come Sunday I’m sure we’ll be bouncing.”
With the likes of ex- Great Britain stars like Gareth Ellis and Leon Pryce plus the arrival of Castleford Tigers star Marc Sneyd, Hull have plenty of class in their ranks.
Turning that into tangible success is now imperative and the pressure is on from the off.
Houghton, 26, said: “It’s 23 rounds now, a shorter regular season.
“After 10 games if you are struggling and chasing points to catch up then you could be in trouble.
“The earlier you get some points on the board the better. Two points on Sunday will make a big difference.
“Huddersfield are a team who will be in and around not only the top eight but probably he top four.
“It’s a tough test for us first up, but we are going there looking forward to it and believing we have enough to win the game.”
Houghton, who was Super League’s top defender last term with more than 1,000 tackles, has seen his role at the KC Stadium alter drastically since first emerging as a teenager.
He added: “Things change over time; now my focus is on being a leader here and helping this team to where we want to be.
“That’s inside the top eight at the end of the season and then in the top four after that. Our main priority right now is that eight.”
Hull field their new half-back combination of Marc Sneyd and Leon Pryce, while Australian forward Mark Minichiello also makes his debut in a match that marks the 250th Super League appearance of skipper Gareth Ellis.