Hull FC: Craig Fitzgibbon

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We know we just didn’t turn up for the most important game of the season last year.

That probably discredits Hull KR who outplayed us in that play-off match but they got one over us at the most crucial time and now, this meeting with them first-up, gives us a chance to atone.

Fortunately for us, whatever happens, it isn’t the end of the season like last year but regardless we’re all looking forward to playing under the roof at Cardiff. With it being the last game of the weekend we can build a big groundswell of support and fill the stadium as best as possible.

It is pretty hard not to have a derby thrown in your face when you know it is around the corner but we look forward to it.

We played them four times last year – my first season with Hull – so I know what it is all about now. The local boys certainly raise their game for the derby and it is really important to the fans in particular. They love it, get right into it and it is good for rugby league and good for the game.

We are just so fortunate that we get to be part of it all and aren’t the ones watching. We made good strides last season and came from 13th to just a shandy off fourth when we lost that last match to Leeds with Lee Radford getting sent off after 10 minutes.

You learn from those mistakes but I think for us to succeed this year we need the nucleus of our side to stay on the paddock for a long period of time.

Last year, I think Sean Long and Richard Horne – the two most important players – played four games together.

The hooker – Danny Houghton – was outstanding so there’s one key position taken care of.

If we can shore up six, seven and one, then we will be there or thereabouts and hopefully go that one step further but we know everyone else has raised their standards too.

I’ve taken over the captaincy from Longy which should hopefully free him up to do what he does best with the ball.

He lives quite a distance away and stayed over with me quite a bit last year when he had a wretched time with injuries.

He felt it was best to step back and focus on getting himself right. Fair play to him.

Certainly he will remain the on-field general and I will be the whinger in the background still just chirping over his shoulder.

We tend to agree on most on-field things anyway so the dynamics of the team will not change too much.

The opposing captain is Mick Vella who I obviously know well from back home in Australia.

He is a top bloke and that is the best thing about rugby league; you can be mates but still have that rivalry on the field.

We elbowed each other a couple of times last year, had a little dig in the ruck, a bit of a blow-up too and some swearing but we laughed it off afterwards.

That’s what footy is all about. It’s certainly nothing personal. You are just doing the best you possibly can for your club, your colours and yourself and he is doing exactly the same.