HULL FC winger Steve Michaels has spoken of his relief at unexpectedly agreeing a new deal with the Challenge Cup winners.
The Australian is a real fans’ favourite at KCOM Stadium but was all set to return home at the end of this season as it seemed there would be no space on the salary cap to see him stay a third year.
However, with long-serving centre Kirk Yeaman announcing last week he will retire and not play on in 2017, Michaels seems certain of gaining a further 12-month contract.
It is welcome news for Hull fans, still dismayed by Friday’s abject 23-6 home loss to Warrington Wolves which saw them miss out on the League Leaders’ Shield to their depleted opponents.
On the new deal, Michaels said: “We’re sorting it out this week. We’ve left it late enough but fingers crossed it’ll all be sorted and I’m hoping to stay.
“It’s in the works and I’m delighted. The boys are very tight here, like family. I was preparing to go home for a little while and counting the games down.
“I was getting sad as we’ve achieved so much. But there’s so much to play for and my focus is still on Old Trafford.”
Not only did Hull fail to finish top for the first time since 1983 by losing to an injury-hit Warrington, they also slipped from second to third after Wigan Warriors usurped them after defeating Catalans Dragons in their final Super 8s game.
That means Lee Radford’s side, long-time leaders in 2016, surrendered home advantage in the semi-finals – they must now visit Wigan on Friday for a place in the Grand Final.
Having defeated Warrington in the Challenge Cup final, hopes of achieving the treble are also gone.
Michaels, 28, admitted: “I’m gutted. Especially at our home ground, seeing them (Wolves) lifting the trophy and celebrating... it hurts.
“Hopefully, it gives us a response next week at Wigan.”
Hull have won just once in four games since beating Warrington at Wembley and Radford admitted on Friday he was worried by his side’s drop in form.
“For whatever reason, six or seven weeks ago we looked red-hot but over the last couple of weeks we haven’t and it’s a concern,” he said.
Hull certainly look jaded and lacked any real guile or punch on Friday.
Michaels, who featured at Wembley and has scored a dozen tries in 28 games this season, concurred.
“It’s probably the energy,” said the former Brisbane Broncos winger, who joined from Gold Coast Titans. “They turned up with more energy than us. I can’t put my finger on it at the moment. We’ll look at the review but we need to get back to where we were full of energy – and our attack was more in sync.
“We were a little shell-shocked really when the scored early.
“We needed to rise to that occasion but, unfortunately, we didn’t. We have to do it the hard way by going to Wigan but it (winning the title) is still definitely achievable.
“We can take a leaf out of their book and look at how they responded to the Challenge Cup loss to us. It definitely hurt on Friday. They were depleted with injuries as well. We won’t drop our heads now; we know what our squad can do.”
Warrington fluffed a chance to wrap up the League Leaders’ Shield the week before, when they let slip a 28-14 lead against 12-man Wigan, and were dealt another blow with the loss through injury of influential playmaker Kurt Gidley and in-form second-row Ben Currie.
However, despite also missing Chris Sandow, Ben Westwood and Ryan Bailey, they produced a fine display to grab first place and a home semi-final against St Helens on Thursday.
Warrington coach Tony Smith paid tribute to former Hull winger Tom Lineham after his two-try performance on Friday. “It was a great response from Tommy Lineham,” said Smith. “When he wasn’t getting picked, instead of sulking, he did something about it. He worked harder each and every week, coming in early and doing all the right things.”