IT will not please their rivals but Hull FC scrum-half Marc Sneyd says the Super League joint leaders are still not even near their best.
They will look to pull away from Warrington Wolves – top on points difference – this afternoon when hosting St Helens on the back of 10 wins in 11 games, a run that also includes a 47-18 destruction of today’s opponents in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
There is growing talk that this could be the year the Black and Whites lift a league title for the first time since 1983 but, for all their progress, Sneyd maintains they are yet to reach their true potential.
They were scrappy at times when defeating derby rivals Hull KR in Sunday’s Magic Weekend success and, speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he added: “I don’t think we’ve played great in the last two games, to be honest.
“We weren’t too good against Wigan (30-16 win at DW Stadium) either, but we’re still coming away with results.
“We’re taking real confidence out of that but are still looking for better performances which can only be a good thing.
“That last Saints game was probably the best so far. It was a really good all-around performance in every area – defence and attack – we were well organised and executed very well, too.
“We got a couple of bounces of the ball, which you need, and it was a good display. Hopefully we can replicate that at the weekend.”
Saints have come in for heavy criticism for their inconsistent form – they were also annihilated by lowly Huddersfield Giants 48-20 in Newcastle last weekend – meaning even head coach Keiron Cunningham, their club legend who is cast in a bronze statue outside Langtree Park, is facing pressure.
Sneyd, ever-present this term contributing two tries, nine assists and 67 goals in his 16 appearances, said: “They are obviously going through a little bit of a rough patch at the moment but, even still, they are there or thereabouts near the top.
“They will be looking to kick their season on properly come Saturday and, with a big pack, I think there will be a really good battle up the middle with our boys.”
Hull’s forward strength is one of the reasons why Sneyd, who joined in a £100,000 deal from Salford Red Devils last year after a brilliant season on loan with Castleford Tigers in 2014, is in such rich form himself.
His creativity, kicking and organising quality on the back of their efforts has proved the bedrock of the East Yorkshire club’s fine returns.
Sneyd believes it could be his career-best spell and admitted: “I’m enjoying it a lot at the moment and, obviously, when you are enjoying it as much as I am, usually your performance comes on the back of that. Hopefully that will continue and we keep getting the wins; that makes me just as happy – victories.
“It’s not really down to confidence. I’ve never been too short of that.
“But just getting a good run of games and getting consistency into my own game, that has really helped.
“Getting the wins off the back of that has helped – it breeds confidence in everyone – and all the boys seem to be getting some form in their careers at the same time, which is good for each other.”
One of those is prolific full-back Jamie Shaul who is proving a scourge of Super League defences.
Sneyd, who has forged a great understanding with the electric No 1, conceded: “He is on fire.
“Shauly’s one of those players who can score a try out of anything and even the slightest of gaps in the defensive line he’s able to find it. He’s got ridiculous pace to back it up as well.”
Jonny Lomax is back in the Saints squad today and his battle with Shaul should be a highlight.
“He has obviously really struggled quite badly with injuries throughout his career so it’s nice to see him come back and be flying again,” admitted Sneyd.
“He doesn’t seem to have dropped off at all after those knee injuries and has clearly looked after himself.
“He’s one we’ll have to keep an eye on on Saturday.”
And once the 80 minutes is over will all eyes turn to Hull City’s play-off final at Wembley, a return to the Premier League the prize if they can overcome Sheffield Wednesday?
Oldham-born Sneyd, a real football fan with a love for Manchester United, said: “I’m not a big follower of Hull City.
“I probably won’t even watch it – I’ve no idea what their form’s been like or anything – but a lot of the lads will be.
“Tag (Scott Taylor) is a big City fan and the majority of them keep an eye on results. They’ll all love it if they do go up.”
Cunningham says he is taking criticism of his team’s inconsistent form personally and will draw extra motivation from it.
“It means a lot to me,” Cunningham said. “I am a local kid who grew up in our system. I fought hard from the age of 16 for this club.
“I do take it personal and hard when things aren’t going right.
“I don’t want to be letting the fans down and people like Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and Mike Coleman. I will keep fighting until the end with these players. I still believe in this group and I am always confident we can do things this year.”