IT MIGHT be the last game of this season but Hull FC’s players are already fighting for 2016 spots.
They host Catalans Dragons tomorrow knowing all that victory will achieve is confirmation of seventh place ahead of their French opponents who could, if they prosper, consign them to eighth.
There has not been much to get the Airlie Birds supporters excited of late but head coach Lee Radford has blooded a raft of youngsters and will look on intently tomorrow to see how they fare once more.
“We have used this period at the end of the year for what it is,” he said.
“It’s been a great chance for the younger blokes to put their name in the hat moving forward, and Catalans is another opportunity for them to do that.
“Fringe players in the team on Sunday can show they’re in contention for the start of the next year.
“The fact we won’t be having as many pre-season games as in years gone by either means to finish on a high is vital for us.”
Veteran Richard Whiting, back-row Jordan Thompson and Warrington-bound Tom Lineham all return from injuries with Masimbaashe Matongo and Jack Downs dropping out.
“It has been a poor year for Richard in terms of his time on the field,” added Radford, about one of their survivors from the 2005 Challenge Cup winning side.
“He’s been great when he has been in the team though and is desperate to finish on a high note.
“Jordan Thompson is also in contention and having him back will be a big boost. The energy he plays with is a real plus.
“Catalans are a really tough team at home – but they don’t travel away.”
The French side’s record on the road is abysmal and one of the predominant reasons they have again failed to challenge the top end of Super League this season.
They announced yesterday, though, that they had secured the services of Krisnan Inu for 2016.
The former Kiwi winger, who won the 2008 World Cup with New Zealand, has scored seven tries in a dozen games with the Dragons since his arrival from union club Stade Français in June.