Perturbed Hull FC coach Lee Radford admits he has been questioning his own ability ahead of tonight’s visit from champions Wigan Warriors.
The Airlie Birds have won just twice in their last five games, most annoyingly for them squandering a 16-0 lead to lose at home to lowly Wakefield on Sunday.
Facing Wigan, then, is hardly an appealing prospect and Radford – in his first season as a head coach – concedes there has been plenty of soul-searching.
“It has been a really difficult week, a very tough one,” said the 34-year-old. “It’s been tough personally to pick myself up and then you’ve to pick the players up too.
“The performance we gave against Wakefield is a common one and it has left me questioning myself and the surroundings.
“That’s why it’s been as tough as it has. I’ve been part of the generation that has not turned up that day. It is tough but all we can do is try and train and practise with an intensity and pray, when we step over the whitewash, that intensity is still there on game day.”
Their hopes of a revival are increased given the depth of selection problems Wigan coach Shaun Wane is facing.
He is, crucially, again without his inspirational captain Sean O’Loughlin, but fellow England forward Liam Farrell has also been added to his lengthening injury list after picking up an injury in last week’s loss at Leeds as has former Queensland State of Origin full-back Matty Bowen. However, Radford knows Wigan – who beat Hull in the 2013 Challenge Cup final – remain a formidable threat, that Headingley loss being their first defeat in nine games.
“The Wigan way is to just bring someone else in,” he said. “The production line there is as good as anywhere. We know what to expect from them.”
It is harder for Radford knowing what is going to come from his own side.
He makes changes after the Wakefield debacle, returning veteran Richard Horne to a starting half-back slot to try to bring some clarity and calm, young Australian Jordan Rankin missing out.
“Richard Horne has been around the block more times than he cares to remember,” said Radford about the 2005 Challenge Cup winner.
“We are hoping what he has delivered in the past will be delivered again on Friday night. It’s a massive game for us.”