Smart Matongo ‘does not fit prop stereotype’

Hull FC coach Lee Radford
Hull FC coach Lee Radford
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LEE RADFORD admits potential Hull FC debutant Masimbaashe Matongo is not an archetypal prop forward.

The youngster could make his bow tonight as the depleted Airlie Birds, missing a dozen first-team regulars, head to Wigan Warriors.

A product of the club’s Academy system, the teenager only started playing the sport aged 15 and was representing Hull Wyke just 14 months ago.

But Matongo has been in terrific form for the juniors under Richard Horne’s command.

Radford said: “He’s a fresh-faced youngster.

“We took a punt on him and brought him in on trial.

“He’s polite and a smart kid for a front-rower; he doesn’t fit the stereotype.”

As a former prop himself, Radford is perhaps allowed to make that generalisation.

Meanwhile, his selection problems are such that he was only able to name an 18-man squad for the trip to Wigan and could feature as many as seven Academy players against a side sitting second in Super League.

Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan, Brad Fash and Jack Downs retain their places in the squad that was vanquished by Warrington while Jansin Turgut is added with Matongo, and Ross Osborne is a second teenager who could debut.

“The injury situation is what it is,” added Radford.

“When I got the job I said I wanted to blood a few youngsters but I didn’t expect this.

“All I’ve asked of the young blokes is to play with energy and it’s an opportunity for them to enhance their reputations.

“For the youngsters it’s a case of saying this is what the bright lights look like.”

Hull, of course, are down in eighth and long since out of the reckoning for the top four.

Radford continued: “We got close to Wigan at their place earlier in the season but then we were nowhere near them when they came to ours.

“We had plenty of opportunities but we just didn’t take them.

“We are playing a ruthless side and we’ll have to be at our best on Friday.

“Wigan won’t look too deep into our situation; they just turn up and perform every week while we need a response after a disappointing defeat at Warrington.”

If Wigan win then, unbeaten at home in the league for more than 12 months, they will draw level with leaders Leeds Rhinos, who have a superior points difference but face a tricky game at Catalans Dragons tomorrow.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane said “If we don’t get it (top spot) in the end, we won’t have deserved it. The one thing I want is a real, good professional performance.”