Hull FC coach Lee Radford still fuming after win over Wigan

THERE was a comical moment at the end of an otherwise largely serious press conference on Saturday when Hull FC coach Lee Radford realised forward Jordan Thompson was actually watching on in the gathering.

On the way: Hull FC celebrate Jamie Shaul's try against Wigan.

He had been unaware the player was present, waiting to fulfil some media duties of his own, yet they caught each other’s eye just after Radford had jokingly said he would be able to drop a player for Friday’s game at Salford as he had so many fit and fresh numbers available again.

It was then, though, Radford suddenly realised he had mentioned so many stellar contributors to this impressive win over champions Wigan yet neglected to note Thompson’s positive impact after missing two games with tonsillitis.

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“All right Jord. I didn’t mention you did I? Can I mention Jordan Thompson? What a great effort coming back.”

On the way: Hull FC celebrate Jamie Shaul's try against Wigan.

Big laughs, Radford exited. Thompson took the seat, ready for his questions. There was only one subject on everyone’s minds – player welfare.

His coach had expressed his disgust at the RFL for making players endure a ‘second Easter’, playing the previous Friday and Monday before facing another fixture at the weekend.

It was Hull’s third game in eight days and, though they produced a Herculean effort to dismiss reigning champions Wigan – the Black and Whites were 24-0 up inside 31 minutes and only tailed off at the end – he was adamant the governing body needed to admit they had erred.

What were Thompson’s views?

On the way: Hull FC celebrate Jamie Shaul's try against Wigan.

“I missed the Friday/Monday this time but I did the one before (at Easter) – and one’s enough,” said the industrious 25-year-old, who brought real energy to a Hull front-row missing Scott Taylor, Liam Watts and Josh Bowden.

“You feel kind of flat and don’t feel prepared for a game on that Monday after you’ve been battling on the Friday. I’m probably not for it.”

One of Radford’s gripes – and a few people came in his firing line – was that Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke had suggested earlier in the week that pain-killing injections should be banned from the sport.

Already battling to get through such a gruelling schedule, though, Radford scoffed at the idea, saying Saturday’s game would have been called off as so many of his squad required such treatment just to take to the field.

Thompson concurred: “We’ve four or five boys that kind of need them. Maybe without the jabs – if we had a fully fresh squad – they might be able to miss a game or two. But it’s just an impossibility to start making remarks like that and saying we could go without it. As Rads said, we probably wouldn’t field a squad.”

Radford said there was scant regard for player welfare after his side picked up a first win in four games and maintained the governing body should concede it has got things badly wrong.

The RFL initially implemented the extra double-header to create space in the calendar for an England training camp that never materialised.

Radford, missing seven regulars, said: “I understand the RFL continue to defend the situation but if you are not going to admit to mistakes you are never going to right the wrongs.

“When I go to a coaches’ meeting I have to sit there for an hour and listen to them (RFL) talk about player welfare and how depressed my players could be and how I have to look after them and keep them all smiling.

“But there was no thought for player welfare in that game. Let’s not kid ourselves; player welfare doesn’t seem paramount at this moment in time.”

Radford was most damning of his old Bradford team-mate Jamie Peacock for saying coaches should stop whingeing about players playing twice in four days.

Asked, knowing the legendary former Great Britain captain as he does, if he was surprised by Peacock’s comments, he replied: “Very… (pause). But look at the payroll he’s on.”

The 39-year-old is, of course, now Hull KR head of rugby – but also employed by the RFL as England team manager.

Steve Michaels (2), Mark Minichiello, Danny Houghton, Jamie Shaul – with a fine solo try – and Albert Kelly were Hull’s scorers in a first home win over Wigan since 2009, their opponents only rallying late on after trailing 38-14 on 67 minutes.

Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Talanoa, Tuimavave, Rawsthorne; Kelly, Connor; Green, Houghton, Thompson, Washbrook, Minichiello, Manu. Substitutes: Turgut, Downs, Fash, Matongo. Wigan Warriors: Tierney; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Willians, Leuluai; Nuuasala, McIlorum, Sutton, Wells, Farrell, Isa. Substitutes: J Tomkins, Powell, Tautai, Field. Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)