Crossing the divide: How Albert Kelly intends to make his Hull switch successful

NEW signing Albert Kelly insists he does not have 'many regrets' as he starts life with title-chasing Hull FC following an acrimonious departure from their city rivals Hull Kingston Rovers.

CROSSING THE DIVIDE: Albert Kelly, seen being held by the Warrington defence, has made the cross-city switch from relegated Hull Kingston Rovers to Challenge Cup winners Hull FC. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The capture of the gifted Australian half-back could yet be the best piece of business done by any Super League club in readiness for the 2017 campaign if he can consistently deliver what he showed in flashes for Rovers.

Kelly, though, is simply intent on making the most of his chance with the Challenge Cup holders, who proved such a force last term, especially after his two-year stay at Craven Park came to such a disappointing end.

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The former Gold Coast Titans star was suspended by them in September having arrived back two days late from an agreed trip to visit an ill relative in Australia.

Kelly never played for KR again, crucially being omitted for vital Qualifiers fixtures including the ‘Million-Pound Game’ loss to Salford Red Devils that ultimately led to the club’s relegation.

“I really wouldn’t want to get into that,” said Kelly, when asked if he was surprised Rovers did not call on his services for that definitive contest.

“I’ve not many regrets, really. I would have liked to play a few more games at the back end of the season but it wasn’t the case.

“It was kind of frustrating but I look back at it and it’s done now and I need to move on.

“It’s all behind me now. I’m always looking ahead now and at the challenges in front of me. That’s a really big challenge now to get some time on the field and some quality training underneath my belt to get back stronger and fitter.

“I’d just really like to thank everyone at Hull KR who made my time there memorable and I hope they can get back up to Super League where they belong.

“With Tim Sheens there, some of the players they have and some of the new additions, they look exciting. I’ll be watching.”

Kelly, however, will be playing in Super League rather than the Championship with Hull hoping his running game, in particular, will inject some added dynamism to their play in 2017.

The Airlie Birds led Super League for most of last year but tailed-off badly after their Wembley success, too often lacking the requisite variety and creativity to break down high-class opponents.

In theory, Kelly, who scored 16 tries in 23 games as Rovers’ ‘Player of the Year’, should help Lee Radford’s side do that and offer competition to both prolific scrum-half Marc Sneyd and Kiwi stand-off Carlos Tuimavave.

“Radders wants me to play my natural game and take a little bit off Sneydy with his kicking,” he said.

“I can do a little bit here and there but he really wants me to run which is one of my favourite things – to run the ball.

“I enjoyed 2015 (with KR) but there’s room for improvement on that year. I thought I did all right but I’m setting goals now that I set in 2013 with the Titans – reaching the weight I need to play at to be at my quickest.

“I’ve got to find that balance between training and playing the game, trying to dig up some of those past goals and re-invent them somehow.

“That (2013) was definitely my best year. I was fit and strong.

“In this moment in time, I think I am a bit more powerful with a few more kgs behind myself. I think if I can just trim down just that little bit and keep that punch and speed I think I should do all right.”

Kelly, of course, is not the first nor will he be the last to switch between Hull’s two famous clubs.

At KCOM Stadium, Scott Taylor and Liam Watts have played for both and he maintained joining KR’s fierce rivals was never an issue.

“At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about it,” added Kelly.

“The opportunity came across and I took it so I’m happy with the decision. The rivalry between FC and KR is probably the biggest in rugby league and I had a little bit of stick which is to be expected.

“But, you know, it’s time move on. I’ll probably get some stick during the season but it’s a bit more motivation for myself.

“I really need to get some good hard training underneath my belt and a few games early in the trials.

“I’ll be looking forward to that, having not played in a bit and am looking forward to the challenge of being back out there.”

Hull face Hull KR in a friendly when Kelly, who has signed a 12-month deal, could debut. A former Australian Schoolboys international, he was hailed one of the NRL’s brightest talents only to be sacked by both Cronulla Sharks and Newcastle Knights for alcohol-related issues.

This could, then, arguably be seen as a last opportunity to make the most of his obvious talent but Kelly said: “I just really see it as a stepping stone.

“This season is going to be a stepping stone of where I’m going to be next year so I’m looking forward to it.

“I can’t wait for the challenge to get my hands dirty.”