Dave Craven: Gentle touch turns to granite as Radford brings steel to Hull

THEY say nice guys finish last and in the case of Peter Gentle you have to concur.

Well, the Hull FC coach finished sixth out of 14 two seasons running, so that’s technically not correct, but you get my drift.

You could not meet a more amenable soul than the cheery Australian who was always a pleasure to interview even when running through an injury list as long as the Clive Sullivan Way.

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But sadly for him, his reign was cut short because his side were not only not good enough but also, as he was, just too... nice.

Hull chairman Adam Pearson felt he needed a more authoritarian figure, someone who could instil “fear” in the annoyingly inconsistent Airlie Birds and develop a steely core.

He has seen the success Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants have had under two no-nonsense, plain-speaking and domineering presences in Brian McDermott and Paul Anderson and decided he wanted the same.

Throw in Wigan Warriors’ Shaun Wane and you have three English prop forwards all doing wonders after swapping life as a player doing the hard yards to coaches doing the hard talking.

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Pearson will, then, hope Lee Radford can follow the pattern after being promoted from Gentle’s assistant to the top job.

A granite-like prop himself, who in his younger days actually played alongside both Anderson and McDermott in Bradford colours, he was as industrious as they come on the field.

Radford will ensure the same work ethic is in place throughout this under-performing Hull squad otherwise – no matter how big the name – players will go.

With his love of boxing, he has famously gone into the ring and shown his fighting skills. It is hard to imagine him accepting any of the meek surrenders evidenced by sides under Gentle’s tenure.

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Pearson wants more of a disciplinarian in charge and, in fairness, the Black and Whites do probably need such a figure.

There has been too much hype at the KC about how good Hull are going to be – admittedly nothing to do with Gentle – and now is the time for realism.

Pearson has charged Radford with bringing on many of the youngsters he has worked with at Academy level in a bid to soothe relationships with the disgruntled local public and the new coach is certainly an advocate of homegrown talent.

No one has been more scathing of the maligned dual-registration system than Radford who could only watch on in disgust as Hull’s best kids were left without a game for weeks due to the bungled York City Knights deal.

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It is clear there will be a far more harmonious relationship with Doncaster, led by his former team-mate Paul Cooke, in 2014.

At just 34, Radford is now Super League’s youngest head coach and he has only served a two-year apprenticeship under Gentle which could be concerning given how different the two roles are.

People forget this was also Gentle’s own first head coach gig when Hull employed him in 2011.

But he was aged 45 and had operated in the NRL under the esteemed Tim Sheens at Wests Tigers for years while also working as his deputy for the Australian national side. Yet he still failed in East Yorkshire.

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However, Radford has surrounded himself with knowledgeable folk and it cannot be forgotten he has been cutting his coaching teeth since the age of 21 with amateurs East Hull.

Crucially, too, that affinity with the locals – Radford played more than 200 games for Hull and captained the team with a pride many players will do well to follow – should see him gain more slack when the side will inevitably struggle and those famously demanding supporters start questioning from the stands.

Pearson has also pledged to give him time to develop a playing identity and culture.

The owner knows only too well that getting the appointment wrong once is understandable but twice and he will have to start querying his own involvement.

Radford’s appointment might be seen as a gamble but it could yet easily yield a profitable return.