Hull FC v Hull KR: Tony Smith desperate to silence 'noisy neighbours' in round one showdown

Hull FC boss Tony Smith is out to silence "noisy neighbours" Hull KR in Thursday's Super League derby opener at the MKM Stadium.

Rovers head into the round one clash as favourites after enjoying a promising start to Willie Peters' reign in 2023.

The Robins reached the Challenge Cup final and finished fourth in Super League, raising hopes of ending the club's 39-year trophy drought.

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KR have pushed their rivals into the shadows but, coining a phrase from former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Smith is ready to help Hull get back on top in the city.

"Most of us live in the city and that rivalry is always there," said Smith, who crossed the divide following a three-year spell in charge of the Robins.

"You hear about it until the next time you play them.

"It would be great if we could start the Super League season well and also get one over our noisy neighbours."

It promises to be a blockbuster start to an exciting new era for Super League under global sports management company IMG.

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Tony Smith is excited about the latest instalment of the Hull derby. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)Tony Smith is excited about the latest instalment of the Hull derby. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)
Tony Smith is excited about the latest instalment of the Hull derby. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

The introduction of a grading system has helped drive up standards, while every game will be broadcast or streamed live for the first time across a variety of platforms.

Smith views an opening night Hull derby as the perfect way to carry the excitement into the new season.

"It's captured everybody's attention," said Super League's most experienced coach.

"I think that's the purpose of it. We did the Super League launch last week in Manchester. There was a good turnout and one of the first questions I got asked was about the derby match in round one.

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Nu Brown and Mikey Lewis will lock horns at the MKM Stadium. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Nu Brown and Mikey Lewis will lock horns at the MKM Stadium. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Nu Brown and Mikey Lewis will lock horns at the MKM Stadium. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"It's a great way to capture everybody's attention, not just in our city but the sport. Everybody knows the rivalry between the two teams.

"We're kicking off the season with a humdinger of a game."

The rivals shared the derby spoils last season after each winning in their neighbours' backyard.

Smith expects to see a different approach from both teams in early-season conditions.

Hull were heavily beaten by Wigan in their final friendly. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Hull were heavily beaten by Wigan in their final friendly. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Hull were heavily beaten by Wigan in their final friendly. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"I think we're both going to be a bit underdone, like every team is at this time of the year, particularly in the way that they play," he said.

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"The skill levels that you can play and what you'd like to play are two different things.

"Both teams will get better as they go on but it's certainly going to be a tough and physical way to start the season."

Hull have not qualified for the play-offs since 2020 and finished third bottom in Smith's first season in charge.

After freshening up his squad, Smith is hoping to break back into the top six.

"It would be nice," he added.

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"That's just in theory at the moment and we've got to live it out.

"Every team sets off with the same sort of desires at this time of the year – to make the play-offs and those sort of things.

"It would be great if our youth have that hunger to drive that along, as well as some of the experienced players. Only time will tell on that account."

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