Hull FC coach Andy Last spells out Challenge Cup magic

Hull FC interim head coach Andy Last says it was “important” that the Challenge Cup went ahead this season as his club prepare to try and make another bid for the trophy.

Hull FC's two-time Challenge Cup winning captain Danny Houghton in action in the win against Wakefield Trinity. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

With five months of the season lost to Covid, there was some talk that the famous competition would have to be lost from the schedule.

Thankfully, it was kept on the itinerary and Hull - who face Castleford Tigers tomorrow - are hoping to put themselves into a quarter-final tie with Salford Red Devils next week.

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“It’s important for the sport that the Cup goes ahead,” said Last, whose side face a short turnaround after beating Wakefield Trinity 26-23 in Super League on Thursday night.

“It’s a very prestigious competition and obviously we’ve had success in it in recent years.

“It’s close to our heart and probably my best memories of being part of Hull FC are in the (winning) Challenge Cup campaigns of 2005, 2016 and 2017.

“We’ll be looking to do the best we can with the players we’ve got available against a very good Castleford team.”

Last makes eight changes as Jamie Shaul, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Jordan Johnstone, Gareth Ellis, and Ratu Naulago are all recalled.

Connor Wynne, Josh Bowden, Masi Matongo, Charlie Patterson Lund, Cameron Scott, Ben McNamara, Lewis Bienek and Jude Ferreira all drop out of the squad.

He continued: “That knock-out format can certainly bring the best out of Hull FC and it’s brought the best out of us in recent years.

“I thought we’ve played our best rugby in the Challenge Cup and I’m sure the players are looking forward to that added pressure of your best 80 minutes to get through to the next round.”

Meanwhile, young Hull winger/centre Kieran Buchanan will join Batley Bulldogs at the end of the season.