Impessive form sees Connor earn long-term deal at Hull FC

Jake Connor.
Jake Connor.
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IT IS not surprising that Hull FC have moved to extend Jake Connor’s contract at the club; he is clearly one of Super League’s biggest talents.

The Challenge Cup holders announced Friday that the versatile back – who made a brilliant Test debut for England a week ago – had signed a new deal until the end of 2021.

Connor was committed until 2020 but this latest contract is not just an extension of that, rather a fresh one with improved terms that aligns with his growing importance to Lee Radford’s side.

It is good business from Radford and football manager Gareth Ellis as the gifted player’s stock, it seems, is only going to rise.

It must be maddening, too, for Huddersfield Giants after they allowed him to slip through their fingers when he left at the end of 2016 to take up Hull’s offer of a switch.

Clearly, FC are doing all they can to make sure he now knows where his future lies.

Still just 23, it remains to be seen where his best position will be.

However, it will be intriguing to see where his career goes from here either at centre, where he has largely played for the East Yorkshire club, or at half-back where he impressed so vividly off the bench against New Zealand.

“It’s a massive relief to know I’ve secured my future at Hull FC for the next three years because I love it here,” said Connor, who helped them win at Wembley last term and is now hoping to guide them to Old Trafford.

“There is a great culture going on behind the scenes here that maybe the fans don’t get to see. It’s like a big family.

“I’m very fortunate to have played for Hull at such a young age because I have learned so much and that was helped by how quickly I settled into the squad.”

Radford has always been a fan of Connor’s game and his ability to be able to produce game-changing pieces of skill.

Undoubtedly, the Halifax-born player is one of the most exciting to watch and the Airlie Birds have needed someone of that ilk for some time.

Ironically, they now have two given Albert Kelly is also in their ranks and, crucially, tied down on his own new contract until the end of 2020.

On Connor, Radford admitted: “The talent was clear to see when he was at Huddersfield and it was fantastic that we could get him here in the first place.

“He simply caught our eye with a few of the things he did and he still does things that leave us speechless.

“He can catch the ball off his chest, throw passes with just one hand, give balls out the back door. He is a very talented player.

“It’s a fantastic bit of business from the club because he’s a fantastic player.

“After a brilliant first year for us, he’s gone on to become even better and hopefully he can continue to perform consistently and shine in the big games.”

If Connor can do that, you could see him help really take this Hull team to the next level that Radford is demanding.

Obviously, having won the Challenge Cup back-to-back, FC have already made a mark under Radford’s leadership.

Nevertheless, having ended the famous Wembley hoodoo, Hull are now keen to bring another long wait to a close.

They have never won a Super League title and it has been 35 years since they last lifted the league championship.

Having reached the semi-finals in the last two campaigns, you sense Hull are edging closer to a first Grand Final since 2006.

Attracting and retaining the players of Connor’s quality is key if they are to eventually do that.

They have been busy of late extending contracts for not just Kelly and Connor but the likes of Carlos Tuimavave and Fetuli Talanoa, too.

Furthermore, emerging talents such as Masi Matongo, Jordan Lane and Brad Fash have all also signed new deals earlier this year and more are expected.

Hull certainly seem to have all the right building blocks in place to push on further.

Watching Connor get that chance with England will only serve to encourage others that it is a positive environment in which to flourish.

The key now, as Radford suggests, is that he – and the whole side – learn to gain the consistency required to truly establish themselves in the bigger picture.