BEING dropped has reminded Kirk Yeaman of just what it means to be a part of Hull FC.
One of three survivors from the Airlie Birds side that shocked Leeds Rhinos in the 2005 Challenge Cup final, the former England centre hopes to add a second winners’ medal against Wigan Warriors at Wembley.
However, the 29-year-old, who is fast approaching a 300th game for his home-town club, suffered the rarity of being left out by Peter Gentle at Castleford in June.
For someone so proud and ingrained into the Black and White fabric – he has amassed 155 tries since debuting in 2001 – he admits it was a massive blow.
“I was actually embarrassed but it was no-one’s fault apart from myself,” said Yeaman.
“I’ve never been dropped before so people were asking if I was playing and all I could say was ‘Oh, no.’
“But Pete had his reasons and they were good ones.
“I reckon I needed it. He oversees everything and if he wasn’t happy with what I was doing at the time that was fair enough. But I didn’t go sulk. I just got on with it.
“I’ve come back and feel I’ve come back stronger. Hopefully, it will never happen again.”
Yeaman returned the following week and scored in successive games against Wakefield and Huddersfield.
He would love another try or two tomorrow to aid Hull’s chances of causing another upset against the 1-3 favourites.
Yeaman was only 22 when Paul Cooke dived over at the death to set up the East Yorkshire club’s famous win over Leeds in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. He admits now that the whole experience just left him wanting the sanctuary of his bed.
“I don’t remember a lot about the game,” added Yeaman. “It mentally drains you. I remember getting back to my hotel room and all I wanted to do was sleep.
“Walking around the pitch and celebrating with the fans took it out of me.
“I forced myself to go for a beer but can’t really remember too much about the game. It does sort of pass you by. I think I’ll take in a lot more of this game.”
Yeaman, enjoying his testimonial year, experienced the other side of Challenge Cup finals when he was part of the Hull side that lost against St Helens at Wembley in 2008.
“I was gutted when that happened,” he recalled.
“There was 15 minutes left and we were 12-10 up with a chance of winning at Wembley but obviously for whatever reason it wasn’t meant to be.
“We’ve got a chance to try and put that right against Wigan.”
Meanwhile, Yeaman reckons versatile team-mate Richard Whiting could defy superstar Sam Tomkins to win the coveted Lance Todd Trophy.
“Stilts is a good mate of mine and unreal,” he said, about his fellow 2005 Cup victor, who has played every position but hooker.
“Every pre-season he says he’s playing back-row but ends up wing. Believe me, no matter where he plays, he’ll do a job.
“He could start in the back-row, then end up on the wing and still get man-of-the-match!”