IT IS a given that the Hull derby is a must-win encounter for both sides but, according to Mark Minichiello, Thursday’s game is all the more critical to the Black and Whites.
They head into the KC Stadium clash sitting joint-bottom of Super League, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats the only side below them by virtue of an inferior points difference.
Having procured just two wins from their opening seven games, another defeat to Hull KR this week will leave Hull in dire straits especially given they face another arduous task when heading to champions St Helens on Easter Monday.
With just 23 rounds to reach the top eight, Lee Radford’s side are already running out of time.
Second-row Minichiello, the Australian who joined over the winter from Gold Coast Titans, did not sign up with Super League for this.
He was left frustrated again following Friday’s 20-14 defeat at Castleford Tigers when Hull, incredibly, forced five drop-outs and had so much possession yet still came unstuck.
“We built a lot of pressure and that was a good thing as we’d not done that in previous games,” the 33-year-old told The Yorkshire Post.
“That was something to take a positive from but when you build that much pressure you should probably convert a little bit more; we only converted twice (with tries).
“It was a little bit frustrating we didn’t get the win but that’s the way football goes.
“There was a couple of lapses in concentration, they ran through the middle of us and they scored off the back of that so it was disappointing.
“But we’ve got the derby to look forward to now. I certainly am as I’ve heard plenty about it.
“I can’t wait to get out there and experience the atmosphere, run around in it.
“It’s going to be a big game and it’s a must-win game for us now.
“I played them in a ‘friendly’ in pre-season but that wasn‘t really a friendly.
“There was a really good crowd there of about 10,000 and we’ll probably expect double that on Thursday in what will be an exciting game and one we really want to win.”
Hull are without Marc Sneyd after the scrum-half - whose kicking game had hurt Castleford so badly - was helped off with an ankle injury in the second period at Wheldon Road and will now be missing for around five weeks along with injured prop Chris Green (knee).
Minichiello added: “Sneydy was just coming good.
“I thought he was really taking the game and controlling it really nicely and then unfortunately he got an injury.
“That could have been the difference in the game but those things happen, you have got to deal with them and try keep going to win the game.
“Unfortunately they got us by a try but we’ve got to keep working hard.
“He’s a loss as is Greeny but we’ve got people to come in.”
Radford, though, is fit again after their head coach missed last week’s game due to illness.
Former South Sydney star Minichiello insisted that wasn’t an excuse for their fifth loss of the year, assistants Andy Last and Richard Horne plus injured captain Gareth Ellis taking over on the night.
“Everything is done by game day so it’s down to the players how they prepare and get ready for that,” said the Italy 2013 World Cup star.
“It’s not down to the coach too much on a match night and, although he has an input at half-time and influence that way, that didn’t play a factor on Friday.
“The game was there for the taking and we just didn‘t step up when we needed to.
“We must do against Rovers.”
He will face his former Gold Coast Titans team-mates Albert Kelly and Maurice Blair who have had an instant impact in their debut campaigns at Hull KR, scrum-half Kelly scoring two brilliant solo tries as Rovers stunned St Helens on Friday night.
“I know a few of them but to be honest I’ve not watched too many of their games,” said Minichiello, who is still awaiting his first try for the club after featuring in all seven of Hull’s matches so far.
“We’ll do some video on them but it’s more about us, getting our things right and making sure we get out there and have a good performance.”