ON the back of the “greatest” derby win of his long career, centre Kirk Yeaman is confident Hull FC can finally end Super League leaders Warrington Wolves’ 100 per cent start to the season.
The former Great Britain international was inspirational as the Airlie Birds produced a remarkable victory at fierce rivals Hull KR on Good Friday, recovering from 20-0 down approaching the hour-mark to win 22-20.
It marked two successive wins for Hull, the first time they have achieved that since defeating Salford Red Devils and Catalans in the opening couple of rounds, and the result takes them up to fourth in Super League.
Warrington arrive at the KC Stadium this afternoon, however, as the team to beat, given they have won all seven games, including a 28-10 success over top-of-the-table Widnes Vikings on Good Friday.
Tony Smith’s team, who vanquished Castleford Tigers 56-12 the week before and have already won on the road at champions Leeds Rhinos and in Perpignan, subsequently moved to the summit.
“They’ve started really well and recruited really well in the off-season, too,” admitted Yeaman, Warrington having actually bought England loose-forward Joe Westerman and prolific winger Tom Lineham from Hull as well as heading to the NRL to snare former Kangaroo Kurt Gidley.
“But we’ve recruited well also, and it now has all the makings of a great game. Hopefully, we’ll get the points but on Easter Monday it’s all about who turns up on the day with the most energy.
“Obviously, a three-day turnaround is not good for anyone but you have got to do it and it’s part of your job.
“It’s not about tactics. It’s all about energy and if we have that – we went straight back to our training ground after Rovers to start our recovery – I think we can get another win.”
Traditionally, Easter Monday is always difficult for the East Yorkshire club having invested so much energy and effort – physically and mentally – into the derby at the start of the holiday.
FC, however, will look to harness the wave of emotion created by those epic scenes across the River Hull on Good Friday when they take on Warrington today.
Yeaman, the leading try-scorer in derby history with 17 in 23 games, conceded: “I’ll probably say it’s the best derby I’ve ever won.”
The 32-year-old, who was present when the neighbours first reunited their rivalry in Super League in 2007, continued: “I’ve played in some good ones where we’ve come out as convincing winners like 28-nil the other year and then the victory at Magic last year was another.
“But to be 20-nil down and only have 20 minutes to try and win the game, it was an awesome effort.
“Shauly got us on the way with that first try and we just drew confidence from there, offloading galore and everything came off.”
It was Yeaman’s smart offload that sent full-back Jamie Shaul scurrying away from near halfway to begin the fightback.
Head coach Lee Radford reserved special praise for Yeaman, who only returned to the side for the previous win against Wakefield after being overlooked for the opening five games.
He called him a “legend” for the manner in which he had returned to the fore after that initial setback and the player, who has scored 169 tries in 348 games for his home-town club, wants to cement his place once more.
“I definitely want to do that but I spoke to my wife about it and I’m not thinking too far ahead,” added Yeaman. “I’m just taking one game at a time. I wanted to play well in the derby, win that and now concentrate on Warrington – if selected by Radders!”
There is certainly no doubt about that given his commanding display, both in attack and defence, against Rovers. Yeaman maintains Hull, whose offloading game was top-class in the final quarter, were always confident of overhauling that significant deficit.
“We were just playing a bit of ad-lib rugby, throwing the ball about as we had nothing to lose,” he explained.
“With 20 minutes to go, people thought the game was over and why wouldn’t you especially with defences nowadays? But as a group we didn’t. We firmly believed we could go win that and we did.
“If we can’t take confidence from that for the rest of the season, then we’ll never be able to.”
Radford says teenager Jordan Abdull will return at stand-off today with Leon Pryce (knee) still out and Carlos Tuimavave suffering concussion early on at Rovers.
Kiwi second-row Sika Manu could play after illness while Jordan Thompson could also come in if Radford decides to freshen his squad up further.
Warrington coach Tony Smith makes two changes to his squad, Jack Johnson and Declan Patton replacing Joe Philbin and France centre Benjamin Jullien.