AS a playmaker, Hull FC’s Marc Sneyd is relishing exploiting the space that Super League’s rule changes should create in 2019 –but will not rush his return from injury to do so.
The two-time Lance Todd Trophy winner is recovering from the irritating knee problems that blighted his 2018 campaign and remains unsure whether he will be ready in time for the club’s season opener.
They make the short trip to derby rivals Hull KR in just a fortnight, but the prolific scrum-half has yet to take part in any pre-season games and will not play in England star Jonny Lomax’s testimonial at St Helens tomorrow either.
Sneyd, who managed just 16 games last term, told The Yorkshire Post: “We’re playing it by ear and going by how I feel every morning really.
“I did my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and my MCL (medial collateral ligament) first time around and then the second time some cartilage came away, which obviously had to get pulled out.
“It did half a decent job on my right knee in total and it does feel like I’ve got a new one now. It’s decent. It feels good.
I’ve not been doing the full training but just getting myself right and, hopefully, I’ll be ready for the start. We’ve not put a timescale on it, though. The last time we did that I ended up rushing it a little bit.Hull FC’s Marc Sneyd
“I’ve not been doing the full training, but just getting myself right and, hopefully, I’ll be ready for the start.
“We’ve not put a timescale on it, though. The last time we did that I ended up rushing it a little bit.”
On the subject of time, Sneyd is looking forward to seeing the competition’s new rules come into play.
Shot clocks – which will be in place ready to use in this weekend’s friendlies – have been introduced to speed up play with teams now penalised if they take more than 35 seconds to form a scrum or 30 seconds to take a drop-out.
Furthermore, when Super League starts sides will only be able to make eight interchanges per game rather than 10, which, in theory, should create extra fatigue among the forwards especially.
For half-backs in particular all of this generates the chance to be more creative and, in turn, former Castleford Tigers star Sneyd does expect there to be more tries scored in 2019.
“I am a fan of the changes and I think it will provide a lot more opportunities,” said the 27-year-old, who is more renowned for his kicking than running game.
“Pretty much every team in Super League will have been doing a lot more work on their fitness this time around, especially with the interchange rule changing, and now fewer of them.
“It means blokes have to be fitter and – if they’re not – basically they’ll get found out as they’ve not really anywhere to hide now.
“I think you’ll see quite a lot more tries in that middle period of each half when usually your subs would look to be interchanging between 15 and 25 or 30 minutes.
“From the middle area of the field you’ll see more tries being scored, too, and the job of a half-back will now be to keep an eye out on that area as well, not just what’s going on out wide.
“We’ll be on our toes and looking to capitalise on everything.”
The other key introduction is golden-point extra-time with games level at full-time to be decided by two additional five-minute periods.
If it remains level after that a draw will be recorded.
Surely Sneyd – one of the best drop-goal operators in Super League – will now see his salary cap value increase.
“I wish it was like that,” he said.
“I obviously love that rule. Some people don’t like it, but at the end of the day it’s only an extra 10 minutes. It could still end a draw, but, for me personally, it’s great.”
Hull are more keen than anyone to get going again in Super League after last year’s campaign petered out in embarrassing fashion.
With no Sneyd, and a raft of other key players injured, they lost 11 successive matches and are in no mood to see that stretch to a dozen at the home of their fiercest rivals.
“The last two, three months were awful basically so the sooner the season starts the better for us,” said Sneyd, who retains belief the core of the side that won back-to-back Challenge Cups in 2016 and 2017 can still rediscover their best form.
“It’s the same team; all you have to do is look at the squad list.
“Anyone who knows rugby and looks at our squad list knows we’re not going to be soft throughout the year; we’ll be challenging every team and doing our best to be up there come the end of the season.
“As long as we keep bodies on the field – and I think we will this time around – we will be all right.”
Sneyd’s last game was an aborted comeback against Wakefield Trinity in August.