Catalan Dragons v Hull FC: Airlie Birds flying in early to maximise preparation time

THEY travel to face Super League's bottom club but Hull FC head coach Lee Radford has opted to take no chances for today's game against Catalans Dragons altering the club's travel itinerary to make sure his squad are fully prepared.

Lee Radford. Hull coach not reading too much into Catalans poor form.
Lee Radford. Hull coach not reading too much into Catalans poor form.

In recent years, it has become common practice for visiting sides to fly in and out of France on the day of their fixture.

It has worked for many clubs who have often come away with the points, Perpignan’s Stade Gilbert Brutus not as intimidating as it once was.

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Given the current Catalans side have only two league wins to their name in 2018 as well, you would think the Black and Whites would adopt the same policy.

However, Radford said: “We have done that before but I don’t like it.

“I’m not keen on it. Instead, this year, we decided to fly in on Friday and stay overnight before coming back Saturday after the game.

“It makes sense for us. The way I see it, we can still do our team-run practice in Hull on Friday, then get straight on the flight, over to France and into our hotel the night before the game which is better suited for us.”

Despite their star-studded side, struggling Catalans seem destined to face the Qualifiers for a second successive season following their woeful first half of the campaign.

As well as their travails in Super League, Steve McNamara’s side even struggled for large parts at League 1 York City Knights in last Sunday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth-round tie.

Radford said: “You look at that squad and they still have a quality side.

“They just don’t show that consistently. I don’t think anyone knows why.

“But it was only three weeks ago that they did show what they can do in that first half against Wigan. They can do that to teams. We’re aware of that. They didn’t get the win that day but that showed what potential they do have.

“But against Catalans you need to try and up the tempo of the game because they like to take things slow. The ball comes back into play slowly, there’s not many ball boys, that sort of thing.”

Catalans tore into a 21-0 lead against Wigan in Perpignan only to lose 32-23.

The following week they were then embarrassed 41-0 at Castleford in what has been a bizarre sequence of events.

None of that concerns Radford, however, given he is simply keen on continuing his own side’s impressive run of form. Hull have won five of their last six games and the coach finds himself in an unusual position today.

“This could be the first time this season where I have the opportunity to pick exactly the same 17 again,” said Radford, although Danny Washbrook hopes to force his way in.

“That will make a nice change. But our recent form doesn’t surprise me. When we have our key men on the field, we look a much better side.

“Credit to our conditioning staff. They’re doing some great work to keep everyone in fine fettle.”