SUCH is the state of Hull FC’s injury crisis in New South Wales that head coach Lee Radford admitted, for the first time in his career, he had to actually write down his team during a game just to work out who was doing what.
Matters have got worse since Saturday’s 24-10 loss against Wigan Warriors with Scott Taylor, their England prop, having now undergone emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
Hull had already lost three players to injury during the first half in Wollongong – remarkably Taylor played the fixture believing he was just suffering from stomach cramps – and, with possibly six players dropping out for the second fixture against St George-Illawarra Dragons, Radford is thankful for a reinforcement.
He has agreed a deal that sees Newcastle Knights’ Curtis Naughton – the Dewsbury-born winger who left Hull last year and eventually ended up returning to Australia – to rejoin them temporarily. If, as expected, the East Yorkshire club gain clearance from the RFL, the 22-year-old – who spent time with Sydney Roosters after leaving Bradford Bulls – is set to make his ‘second’ debut at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
There will be plenty of youngsters gaining an opportunity, too, and Radford told The Yorkshire Post: “I think we’ll play everyone who’s available.
“So it’s a great chance for them to play against some big names – international names – and hopefully put on a great show and be better for it.
“Ultimately that’s what I want from this tour now; I want us to go back better for the experience.
“The togetherness has been great. The result was absolutely devastating but I’ve never had a night like that on Saturday where I had to write my team out in the box as I didn’t know what it was.
“That’s a first in my coaching career. Putting him in the back-row, him at centre and then him on the wing... you just lose who’s where. I knew I had one interchange on the bench who was available but who was I going to give a breather to?
“I had a front-row playing back-row, back-row playing on the wing. It was a whole new experience but we’ll be better for it.”
The togetherness has been great. The result was absolutely devastating but I’ve never had a night like that on Saturday where I had to write my team out in the box as I didn’t know what it was.Lee Radford
Hull lost captain Danny Houghton – expected to be missing for at least six weeks due to a torn calf – winger Bureta Faraimo (concussion) and prop Liam Watts (hamstring) while second-row Mark Minichiello (ankle) and centre Jake Connor (knee) struggled to finish the game.
Another centre – Carlos Tuimavave – is still uncertain whether he will be able to return to action this week when they face NRL outfit St George Illawarra.
Radford was, understandably, pleased to see Naughton answer his SOS after a chance meeting with his former player.
He also got the green light from former Huddersfield Giants boss Nathan Brown, who is now coach at NRL club Newcastle where the wideman has been in their feeder squad, and is now just waiting international clearance.
“We are very fortunate we could do this,” added Radford.
“I spoke to Browny and have to thank him for allowing us.
“We only brought a squad of 26 and we expected Carlos being back but weren’t expecting us to lose B (Faraimo) and Jake as well. It’s hit us pretty hard.
“He’s in to his pre-season week 10 so he’ll be fit. I liked him and still do so there’s an opportunity for him to shine.
“But the fact he was here (in New South Wales) and came to visit the hotel was coincidental really. He came to see the lads in Kiama before the game last week and then Saturday happened.
“So I asked the question ‘are you contracted?’ and he’s not signed an official contract yet, I added if there’d be a chance he could play the game and he said ‘yes’.
“He left us (for Leigh Centurions) the back end of pre-season last year so in terms of structures and systems we haven’t changed a great deal.
“He’s going to train with us for this week so he’ll soon get back into the swing of things.”
Naughton, at least, will have plenty of familiar faces to welcome him and not just from Hull.
They trained against Roosters yesterday in a session organised by Craig Fitzgibbon, the former Hull and Australia back-row who now works at the NRL club.
Dave Craven is on tour with Hull FC in Australia in association with Ladbrokes.com