Hull FC coach Peter Gentle has spoken of the “calmness” in his squad ahead of tonight’s Super League play-off game against Warrington Wolves.
Although the East Yorkshire club are massive underdogs against the Challenge Cup winners, who finished four places above them in Super League, a recent upsurge in form has suggested they could be peaking nicely for a push to the Grand Final
The victors of this preliminary semi-final will move to within just 80 minutes of Old Trafford and Hull are adamant they have the tools to cause a shock.
“There is a calmness about the squad,” said Gentle, who has seen his side average more than 50 points per game during the last three fixtures.
“We know what we have to do if we want to still be here next week and there is a real confidence about the place.
“We’ve only conceded five tries in the last three weeks and we are getting that steeliness back in our defence.
“There is a good attitude there and that’s what you’d expect at this time of year.
“The boys are excited and there’s a genuine belief that we can do something special in the play-offs.
“Getting a win away to Warrington would be special.
“There’s expectation from within but there is no pressure on us at all and we are confident in each others’ ability at the minute.”
The only time the sides have met previously in the play-offs was back in 2005 when Warrington – featuring legendary world star Andrew Johns – lost 40-6 at home to the Airlie Birds.
Indeed, their hosts this evening have won only two of their 10 play-off games so far, a woeful record coach Tony Smith is trying to eradicate.
However, this current star-studded Warrington team, who finished second, are deemed to be maturing to near their best and they remain hugely threatening.
“Warrington have a good squad,” added Gentle, whose side defeated Huddersfield with ease on Sunday night.
“If you concentrate on one player, another one jumps up, so it’s going to be a team defensive effort.
“It doesn’t have to be as good as last week, it needs to be better.”
Hull are understood to have signed Wakefield prop Paul Johnson for next season.
The winners will join Leeds Rhinos in the last four after the Headingley Carnegie club stunned Catalan Dragons 27-20 in Perpignan last night.
The reigning Super League champions showed a never-say-die spirit as they twice came back from behind to shock the French hosts.
Tries from Stevie Ward, Carl Ablett, Shaun Lunt and Danny McGuire put the Rhinos in charge before the latter added a late drop-goal to clinch victory.
Coach Brian McDermott described the Rhinos’ win as “something special”.
“That’s one of the toughest wins I have seen, as a player or coach,” McDermott said. “Both teams’ defence was tremendous and both teams had to pick themselves up off the canvas several times.”
Rhinos’ report: Page 6.