IT is a rarity for Hull FC but, ahead of tonight’s Super League semi-final at Wigan Warriors, coach Lee Radford revealed he saw no reason to make his side assimilate their last performance.
Reviewing displays is a major part of preparation but, such was the abject manner of last week’s loss against Warrington Wolves, Radford maintains doing so would have been futile.
Some would argue Hull’s under-performing players should have been made to watch the inept showing as a reminder of where such displays can lead.
Let us not forget, they fell 23-6, conceded the League Leaders’ Shield to Warrington and also dropped to third, hence, now visiting rather than hosting Wigan.
Indeed, if they collapse again, and the Airlie Birds have won just once since lifting the Challenge Cup last month, their season is over. But Radford, whose side will play Warrington Wolves in the Grand Final a week tomorrow if they do prosper, is confident his decision is warranted.
“We decided to draw a line through the sand,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“It’s a funny one as you want to use the disappointment of last Friday and have it still a little fresh in the mind come this week.
“But, at the same time, the performance itself was really uncharacteristic for us.
“We looked at the game Saturday morning as a staff and did not show the players. We wanted to move on ASAP. It is unusual for me to do that and there aren’t many games we have not reviewed and got some detail out of.
“But I just felt we were second best in that many departments against Warrington it would have been a pointless exercise.
“Our form in the Super 8s hasn’t been where I’d like it to be. But one thing we have done this season is be really tidy in knockout football.
“When it’s all been on the line, we’ve found some of our best performances this year. Hopefully, that can be the same on Friday.”
Wigan know only too well how potent their rivals are in sudden-death games; they lost a fiercely-fought Challenge Cup semi-final to Hull 16-12 in July but vowed then to utilise that pain come this time of the season.
Admittedly, Shaun Wane’s side is broken with Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin added to an injury list that has already long included England colleagues Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell and Michael McIlorum. Nevertheless, the dogged Cherry and Whites have an uncanny ability of digging out wins and, having beaten Warrington and Catalans in their last two outings while also winning at Hull in the Super 8s, they feel capable of reaching Old Trafford for a fourth successive year.
Hull, for their part, have lacked the finesse and brio of their pre-Wembley form when they mercilessly swept all before them as the Super League leaders.
Radford suggested they will have to recapture their slick edge tonight – scrum-half Marc Sneyd and full-back Jamie Shaul have lacked their usual dynamism – or hopes of a first league title since 1983 will disappear.
“There’s been a real fine balance for us all year between playing structured stuff that we’ve worked tirelessly on in training and playing ab-lib footy when an offload comes,” he explained.
“How do we respond to that or what do we do when we get that quick play-the-ball?
“That’s something that’s difficult to replicate as a game-scenario. I think we’ve just been loitering on the structured stuff too much as of late.
“We need to try and change that starting Friday against a team who you have to play a little bit as if you get in that cycle of being one-out around the ruck you come second best.
“Hopefully, it will force our hand a little bit.”
Radford played in Hull’s only other Grand Final appearance, the 2006 loss to St Helens, and conceded failing to reach Old Trafford would be a real negative despite having led the club to Wembley glory this term.
“It will be a disappointment,” he said. “With the group we’ve got, we’ve every opportunity to do it so if we didn’t it would be a real disappointment. But we’re striving, channelling everything towards it and getting past Wigan.”
Second-row Sika Manu and winger Fetuli Talanoa are doubts .
Radford said: “Sika’s struggled with his back through the season.
“He’s like a 75-year-old man after the game and then come midweek we get him down to about 30 so we’ll see.
“He’s got a real chance and Fetuli – with his hamstring – will, hopefully, be good to go as he’s been a real player for us this year who we rely heavily on.”