Hull FC v Wigan Warriors - Marc Sneyd ready to pull the trigger to settle Challenge Cup rivalry

CONSIDERING his prolific scoring rate with drop goals, you would imagine Hull FC’s Marc Sneyd practises the art at length.

Hull FC's Marc Sneyd is one of the best kickers in the game (Picture: SWPix.com)

It turns out he does not. And when he does, things go wrong.

It would be no surprise if today’s Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wigan Warriors came down to the narrowest of margins – Wigan prospered just 16-14 when they met in Super League nine days ago – especially with the prospect of Golden Point extra-time.

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Moreover, as recently as 2019, two games between these two sides were decided by drop-goals.

Scrum-half Sneyd, famously, did the business to deliver Super League’s first Golden Point win in a 23-22 victory at DW Stadium that also marked Gareth Ellis’ return from retirement.

However, later that season, in their next meeting, Wigan won 15-14 at KCOM Stadium courtesy of a Zak Hardaker shot.

Whether he had been practising drop goals ahead of today’s clash at Emerald Headingley was, then, an obvious line of questioning for Sneyd especially after, unusually, he missed four attempts in the recent draw against Warrington Wolves.

Renowned as one of Super League’s finest exponents of the skill having slotted 34 drop goals since joining Hull in 2015, he was also off target twice when beating Wakefield Trinity.

Hull's players celebrate Marc Sneyd's golden point drop goal against Wakefield Trinity last March (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

However, Sneyd revealed: “I’ve stopped practising them!

“When I practise them I can’t kick them out on the field so I’ve stopped, weirdly. You’re either good at drop goals or you’re not; you can’t practice them.

“That’s just my opinion. The evidence shows that when I practise them I don’t seem to kick them on the field.”

Sneyd, 30, maintains he traditionally has never drilled the skill.

Hull FC's Josh Reynolds could return against Wigan (Picture: SWPix.com)

He added: “I practise my goal kicking and my five and last kicking. But I genuinely believe that with drop goals, the way you drop the ball changes every single time – and the way you strike it – because you just don’t know where defenders are coming from.

“I do genuinely believe that practising drop goals is a bad thing for when you need to do it in a game situation, because you’re never going to kick how you want to kick it in a game.”

It would be interesting to hear what head coach Brett Hodgson feels on the matter.

However, Sneyd insisted: “Hodgo’s not really said anything to be fair. He’s just left me to it on that front because usually I’m alright in those situations.

“It’s just a blip at the start of the year. I’ve stopped practising them now so hopefully when I need them I can kick them again.”

Undoubtedly, despite his recent dip, Hull fans would not want anyone else pulling the trigger if the need arose today.

It should be a fascinating contest. As well as their last absorbing affair, when Hull lost their unbeaten start to the season and Wigan maintained their’s, the clubs have plenty of recent Cup history as well. Sneyd won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match when FC beat them 18-14 in the 2017 final.

That came after the East Yorkshire club had also beaten Wigan 16-12 in the semi-final the year before on their way to a famous first Wembley triumph. In response, Wigan dumped Hull out of the competition at this stage last year with a comprehensive 36-4 rout at AJ Bell Stadium that will still painfully linger for some of the FC squad.

On their last meeting, Sneyd conceded: “It was quite a difficult one to take. There wasn’t much in it throughout the whole game and it probably could have swung either way. I do feel we probably had ourselves to blame with the way we started and periods in it. It wasn’t where we expect to be.

“Little things that we didn’t do correctly throughout the whole of the game led to us losing.

“But we did take things from it. We seem to be getting better and better as the weeks go on, so regardless of the loss I still think we took a step forward.”

Obviously, the match was overshadowed by Hull’s Andre Savelio claiming he was on the end of a racist remark from Tony Clubb, the Wigan prop who was subsequently found guilty and banned for eight matches on Tuesday.

However, Hull also saw full-back Jake Connor and prop Brad Fash receive one-game bans following incidents in that fixture so both sides have to make changes.

The Airlie Birds do welcome back Josh Reynolds, the high-profile Australian stand-off who returns from a hamstring issue.

“He’s that sort of player we’ve probably missed a little bit in that he can make something out of nothing,” said Sneyd, who is looking forward to resuming their blossoming partnership.

The gifted New South Wales State of Origin star has also been known to drop a goal or two in his career as well.

Just in case...

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