HULL Kingston Rovers captain Terry Campese admits he under-estimated the power of the city derby – and will not make the same mistake twice.
The Australian stand-off leads his side out against Hull FC for the second time in Super League this season when the rivals meet in Newcastle at Magic Weekend this afternoon.
On that first occasion, the Robins duly secured the points with an impressive 20-6 win at the KC Stadium over Easter.
Campese knows another now would do plenty for their season given they have slipped out of the play-offs places.
But he conceded: “I didn’t expect it to be this intense.
“I knew it would be big but it’s outweighed my expectations.
“I won’t go into a derby under-prepared; it takes a lot out of teams and it takes you a while to recover.
“But I do love them and there’s nothing like this back home in Australia.
“When you go around the city you can feel the atmosphere build.
“I actually live in the west part of Hull – the FC side – so everywhere I’ve been this week they’ve let me know what they think! Not many people near where I live have wished me luck, let me tell you that!
“I had some special memories of the last one; it was a great effort to play how we did, and great to win away from home because our fans were outstanding.
“They’re always the loudest and, hopefully, they can be loud this Saturday.
“But I had my mother and a couple of cousins here to watch, which was brilliant, too.
“However, this time I’ve got my wife and children here for the first time seeing a derby, and, hopefully, they will see us pick up another win in the game.”
Rovers, although having reached the last Challenge Cup eight with an epic win at Wigan Warriors, have picked up just one victory in five Super League fixtures.
It means they have dropped to 10th, trailing Hull FC directly above them on points difference, and are in need for some resuscitation to reach the crucial top eight.
Campese, who joined from Canberra Raiders at the end of last year, admitted: “The next six games are huge; we’ve got four at home as well as the Magic Weekend – and the Challenge Cup, too.”
Today sees his first taste of the annual Magic extravaganza – moved to Newcastle’s St James’ Park from Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – where a full round of league games are played at one venue over 48 hours.
“It’s something that the NRL could take on board,” said the 30-year-old former Kangaroo.
“It’s a brilliant concept to have all the Super League teams playing each other in the same venue.
“Having it in Newcastle is great too – a predominantly soccer territory – and it will be great to show them what a spectacle we have as a sport.
“Back home, I have recorded a few in the past, purely so I can see a few of the boys that I’ve played with over the years like Joel Monaghan and Justin Carney, as well as seeing the spectacle.
“It’s been in Manchester and Wales recently and I can’t wait to try this venue out.”
Hull coach Lee Radford, who missed out on Campese’s signature last year, has outlined his side must close him down if they are intent on winning a derby for only the second time in what will be a seventh Magic meeting.
Undoubtedly, the former New South Wales State of Origin man is central to Rovers’ attacking plans whether through his astute kicking game or ability to create space for runners with a range of clever passing.
Campese has only scored two tries, one coming in that win at the KC, but he has assisted in 10 others and it was no surprise when Hull KR head coach Chris Chester made it his priority to tie him down longer to his initial 12-month deal.
He duly signed for a further two years ahead of the Easter battle between the sides.
With fellow Australian Albert Kelly set to return from injury at scrum-half today, Rovers – who lost 36-16 at Leeds Rhinos last week – know they have the chance to emerge from their rut.
“It’s going to be a big game for both,” admitted Campese.
“We’ve got a huge month ahead and we want to get a big win to kick that month off.”