New Hull FC captain Luke Gale determined to lead by example and take club back to top

AS he gets older, Luke Gale admits maintaining consistency gets tougher but he has every confidence he can reach the heights needed to make Hull FC challengers in 2022.

The East Yorkshire club has pinned much of its faith on the England scrum-half, who turns 34 in June and has been made Black and Whites captain following his off-season move from Leeds Rhinos.

Their Betfred Super League campaign gets underway tomorrow week when Brett Hodgson’s side head over to Wakefield Trinity looking to quickly banish the lingering memory of last term when they diabolically lost nine of their last 10 matches.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Hull hope Gale, one of the competition’s leading lights and the 2017 Steve Prescott Man of Steel, can drive up standards and, speaking to people at the club, it is clear he has already helped do that before a ball has even been kicked in anger.

Leeds Rhinos v Hull Tom Briscoe Testimonial sun 30-01-2022 Luke Gale of Hull

However, the Yorkshireman has endured some wretched luck with injuries, fracturing a kneecap while with Castleford Tigers in 2018, missing the entire following campaign after rupturing his Achilles tendon in pre-season training and, last year, tearing a pectoral muscle during a gym session at Leeds.

It is no surprise, then, Gale is keen to get some good fortune on that front for Hull, especially as they have already lost his England team-mate Jake Connor for the opening couple of rounds due to a fractured hand suffered in Sunday’s friendly at Rhinos.

If he can, and recapture the form that inspired Castleford to a Grand Final five years ago, he could be the crucial missing link for the Airlie Birds.

“That is the hardest thing as you get older: playing consistently well,” Gale conceded to The Yorkshire Post.

New combination: Hull are hoping Gale and Josh Reynolds (centre) can team-up and unlock opposition defences next season. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

“The last couple of years has been stop-start with Covid and moving about different players.

“You do just hope for a straight run without any Covid, without any injuries or without a break-up of fixtures.

“It just becomes really frustrating. That’s how last year felt.

“I played two games, then picked up a knock and then the last eight games I did my knee as well so it has been frustrating.

Faith: Hull coach Brett Hodgson chose Luke Gale to lead his side this season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“The year before was great. I think I was playing great footy and only missed two games in 2020.

“Last year was disappointing but the body feels good and pre-season’s gone really well.

“Last pre-season I tore my pec’ off the bone so that shows how that season started and it never really got any better! This year has gone miles better already and I’m looking for a really positive year.

“The body feels good, we have a good squad and we’re ready to go.”

Hull, of course, decided to offload Marc Sneyd – a club legend – to Salford Red Devils to facilitate Gale’s arrival and they will need his partnership with Australian stand-off Josh Reynolds to quickly mesh.

If it does, and they can regain some of the steel showed in the early part of Hodgson’s debut campaign last year, they have the potential to make their mark.

Gale said: “By their own admission, Hull fizzled out in the end last year after starting really well.

“But I think, with the talent we have in this squad, we have to be a top-six squad and we have to improve on last year.

“Anything less than that will probably be deemed a failure really. We’ll be working hard to cement ourselves in the big six.

“Who knows from where what can go on. It becomes a knock-out.”

Having played in the 2017 World Cup final and faced the Combined Nations All Stars last June before his knee injury, Gale hopes to do enough to stay in Shaun Wane’s England plans for the World Cup this autumn.

There is a sense of unfinished business for him after being part of the side that was edged out 6-0 by Australia last time around.

Meanwhile, Gale, who led hometown Leeds to the 2020 Challenge Cup, had an amusing first return to Headingley last week for Tom Briscoe’s testimonial.

“I turned up, said ‘hello’ to people and actually walked left as if I was going into the home changing room,” he admitted.

“Someone had to pull me back which wasn’t a good start!”

Hopefully, it is the gifted playmaker’s one and only false start in a season that promises plenty.