Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC: Albert Kelly aiming to topple Rhinos to make the ‘big dance’

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IT is with wonderful simplicity how Albert Kelly assesses Hull FC’s Super League semi-final against Leeds Rhinos tonight.

The Australian stand-off’s side must win at Headingley for the first time since 2007 to reach Old Trafford where they have not even been since 12 months further back still.

Hull have never won a Grand Final. They have not won a league title since 1983.

So it is an obvious question to ask what it would feel like if they could, then, shatter that record and now go all the way in the competition, which must begin with victory in that sudden-death contest at Headingley.

“I just see it as another game to me,” explains the maverick Kelly.

“I’m not much into stats; I just want to go in, get the result... and get out.”

Hull FC player Albert Kelly: Big threat to leeds Rhinos.

Hull FC player Albert Kelly: Big threat to leeds Rhinos.

It is much like the way he plays; opponents may not see him for long periods but then Kelly will break them with a devilish sidestep, a burst of speed or impromptu kick and suddenly they are stood behind their own posts wondering what happened.

Go in. Get the spoils. Get out. Reverential Leeds fans will have all eyes on their own half-backs, the iconic Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, who could be playing their final Rhinos game tonight.

But their side will undoubtedly be warily watching the coiled spring that is Kelly.

There are plenty of reasons why he is shortlisted with Castleford Tigers duo Luke Gale and Zak Hardaker for the Man of Steel which will be announced on Tuesday night.

Every player will be going in mentally and physically ready to perform for 80 minutes and do all the little things to get the result.

Hull FC’s Albert Kelly

As much as he does not like stats, the basic ones show Kelly has scored 19 tries in Super League this term and created another 14 for his team-mates; he has brought a crucial added attacking component to Lee Radford’s double-chasing side.

Now he needs to seek some of that dynamism all over again to secure a spot in that Grand Final. “Everyone needs to step up,” insisted the 26-year-old, who has been a revelation in his debut campaign after leaving Hull KR.

“This game is that stepping stone to the big dance and if you don’t step up, you step down.

“Every player will be going in mentally and physically ready to perform for 80 minutes and do all the little things to get the result.

“That’s what a big-game performance is and it’s what we need.”

Hull, importantly, have recent experience of doing just that, having beaten Leeds in the Challenge Cup semi-final on the way to back-to-back Wembley triumphs.

Kelly was man-of-the-match that afternoon but he added: “Leeds are a very tough team, very expansive.

“We know what’s at stake – we’re 80 minutes away from Old Trafford – but we need to execute our plan to a tee to get this result; the one per centers have to be there.”

It was no surprise the former Gold Coast Titans star was selected as stand-off in the Super League Dream Team earlier this week although Kelly was a little taken aback.

“My main goal was just to enjoy my football this season,” he said, after his two-year stint at the Robins ended in acrimony.

“Everything else is a bonus. I just wanted to get back out there because I love the game and I love playing it. To be enjoying it again is the main thing.”

Asked if that meant he had not been enjoying life across the city at Hull KR, Kelly responded: “I just wanted to find that spark and probably a change was needed.

“Now I have got that smile back on my face, playing the greatest game of all. I just want to ride it as long as I can.”

Which is great news for Hull fans but worrying for those Leeds supporters hoping to see their side reach a 10th Grand Final tonight.