Gentle relishing head-to-head with his former coaching ally

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Even putting his inside knowledge of Royce Simmons aside, Hull FC’s Peter Gentle knows it would be stupid to under-estimate St Helens tonight.

The Black and Whites chief was a long-time associate of the Saints coach, the Australians spending five years together as assistants at NRL club Wests Tigers.

They meet for the first time as rival head coaches this evening with the Merseyside club in the unusual position of seeking a first win in four games.

However, Gentle, who has overseen a positive start in his time in East Yorkshire, is not being conned by that statistic.

“Saints picked up a draw, were beaten after the bell by Catalan and lost to a field goal last week, so you can hardly say their form has been scratchy,” he said.

“They were Grand Finalists last year and have probably been a bit unlucky in the past few weeks.

“They have some fantastic players and we know it will be a big test of us to go there and come back with a win.

“It will take a better performance than we put in last week.”

Then, Hull defeated Wakefield Trinity l4-10, dominating for most of the game until some late slackness almost generated disaster.

They could move to as high as fourth with a win tonight but Gentle remains wary of what a wounded Saints can achieve with Simmons at the helm.

“I recognise some of the things St Helens do and I’m sure he’ll recognise some of the things I’ve brought to Hull, so it makes for an interesting contest,” he said.

“He’s a good mate of mine is young Roycie so it would be good to get one over on him.

“We worked closely together at Wests but he has his style of coaching and I have mine.

“We have some similar ideas but also some different approaches, so it will be interesting to face him.”

Uppermost in Hull’s thoughts, though, is polishing their offensive approach, which should improve given half-backs Brett Seymour and Richard Horne are playing a fourth successive game together.

Their steely defence is already looking more than capable.