Huddersfield Giants v Hull FC: Jake Connor’s got sights set on Challenge Cup success

SINCE THE latest England training squad was announced early last month and his name was not included, Hull FC’s full-back Jake Connor has looked like a player determined to make a point.

The former Huddersfield Giants man has been the outstanding individual in a Hull side finally beginning to find some of the consistency they have lacked in recent seasons.

England coach Shaun Wane can’t fail to have noticed Connor’s sparkling form and calls are growing for him to be given an opportunity at this autumn’s World Cup.

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The player himself, though, insists that prospect must take a back seat to more pressing matters, such as securing a place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

CUP MISSION: Hull FC's Jake Connor on the attack against Huddersfield Giants earlier in the season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“I am just focusing on having a good season,” said the Halifax-born 27-year-old, who will line up against his previous club in a quarter-final tie at John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon.

“Every player wants silverware, that’s what we want at this club and it’s what I want.”

Hull are aiming to secure a fifth semi-final appearance in seven years and there is an extra edge to their excitement with the semi-finals being staged as a double-header at Leeds United’s Elland Road and next month’s final to be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I want to play in the big games,” stressed Connor.

CONFIDENT: Huddersfield Giants' Josh Jones, centre, is expecting a tough test against Hull FC today. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“We have got some big games coming up and that’s where my mind is at the moment.

“I just want to perform well and help the team win as many games as I can.”

The Challenge Cup is the first trophy on offer this year and Connor has personal reasons for targeting a place in the showpiece, which has been switched away from Wembley as a one-off.

“It is big,” said Connor of the knockout competition, which Hull won in 2016 and 2017.

“The first year I signed here we won the Challenge Cup and I was part of it, but I was on the bench and in and out of the team.

“It didn’t feel the same as it did for some of the other players who had played throughout the competition.

“I really want to win it when I have played in every game, to see how special it is.”

Giants, who have not won the Challenge Cup since 1953 and last appeared in the final 13 years ago, will be equally motivated.

They go into today’s tie two points and a couple of places above Hull on the Super League ladder, having lost only two of their eight competitive games this season.

However, one of those was 14-6 defeat at Hull last month, in a game notorious for the red card which earned Huddersfield’s young half-back Will Pryce a 10-game suspension and Connor insisted: “We are confident.”

He noted: “They have been good, playing some patient rugby.

“They complete high, stick teams in the corner and wait for the opposition to crumble, but we turned them over a few weeks ago and I think that helps us.

“We know what’s coming, we’ve already done it once and I don’t see why we can’t do it again.

“Every time I play in a Challenge Cup game with this team it has got a different feel to it.

“We play differently and I am excited for this week because I know we can play in the Challenge Cup.

“I am ready to go and rip into Huddersfield.”

There is also no lack of confidence in Huddersfield’s squad, despite the result the last time the teams met.

Forward Josh Jones described the mood in Giants’ camp as “spritely and excited”.

He said: “We are very confident.

“We had a good win last week against Catalans and we are excited for the occasion.

“We have had a decent start to the season, we are going well in Super League and we had a good win in the Cup against Barrow.

“We know it is going to be a tough test, but it’s a quarter-final, we are at home and it’s good to be part of it.”

Having had a close look at Hull in the recent league meeting, Jones said Giants know what to expect from today’s opponents.

“They have been playing really well,” warned the second-rower.

“They are strong so it’s a good test for us and a marker to see where we are.

“Watto [coach Ian Watson] talks about putting your best foot forward and competing for everything and we are confident we can get the victory.”

Hull could welcome back stand-off Josh Reynolds, who has recovered from an elbow injury and replaces Connor Wynne in the 21-man squad.

Giants have also made only one change, with Louis Senior coming in for Olly Russell.