VICTORY may still not arrive but Hull FC coach Lee Radford has told his side to at least match Wigan Warriors’ physicality tonight to help ease painful memories of their last encounter.
The Airlie Birds were vanquished 44-16 at home to the champions in May, a defeat that still rankles their chief.
Hull are without a win in their last four games and remain without captain Gareth Ellis plus a raft of other players for the trip to opponents who were just two points off top going into this round.
But Radford said: “We realise the challenge ahead of us. Wigan are the only side this season who we haven’t had an answer for physically this year.
“I’ve set a challenge down to the players that they have to match Wigan physically.
“That is what their whole game is based around and we have to match them in that area. We are hoping this time we get a real quality team performance.”
Hull’s disappointing loss at Salford on Saturday saw them slip to 11th, only above their victors due to a superior points difference.
It left them four points off the pace for a play-off spot and their hopes of achieving that basic aim are fading fast.
“After every game I get asked where that puts us in regard the play-offs,” bemoaned Radford.
“But we are only focussed on Friday night and our only concern is the opposition we are coming up against.
“We are preparing to deal with what they throw at us and hopefully asking some questions of them ourselves. I’m not looking for a sympathy vote but we are like the walking wounded at the moment. It has certainly had a massive effect on selection the last couple of weeks, the amount we have carrying knocks and people playing with knocks too. We will put the best side out that we’ve got physically.
“We have a few injury doubts with Kirk Yeaman, Richard Horne and Setaimata Sa and we’ll give them as long as possible.”
The latest to be sidelined is Aaron Heremaia who will miss up to three weeks of action.
That means James Cunningham, the 20-year-old hooker who has been on loan at London Broncos all season, comes in for his first game in Hull colours this campaign.