IT could be the most unrecognisable side Hull FC have fielded in some time when they face Hull KR tomorrow night but Mark Minichiello maintains the identity of whoever plays is irrelevant.
The Airlie Birds are shorn of eight regulars, prompting not only the expedited signing of Doncaster scrum-half Liam Harris on Thursday but also Kirk Yeaman coming out of retirement to potentially play at Magic Weekend.
With the likes of Marc Sneyd, Albert Kelly, Fetuli Talanoa, Carlos Tuimavave and Josh Bowden all absent, hopes of a rare derby win on the red and white side of the River Hull have risen sharply.
However, Australian back-row Minichiello, who is fit, insisted: “It doesn’t matter who really takes to the field – the derby is the derby.
“You always want to win it and it’s always going to be a tough game, regardless of who takes the pitch.
“We’ll put a side out that we think can get the job done with who we’ve got left.
“We are really struggling for players in key positions in the halves and outside backs.
“We realise it will be a tough game but we will see how it all pans out.”
In fairness, Hull did win at Hull KR on Good Friday even after their winger Bureta Faraimo was red carded after just nine minutes.
Italy star Minichiello recalled: “That was a great performance; to play 70 minutes with 12 men and get the result was a big win for us.
“We can take some confidence from that. We don’t have a lot of players who played in that game now but you still have that in the back of your mind that we can do it even with 12 men.
“We’ve been up and down this year but that display is one that stands out.”
Minichiello, meanwhile, says progress is being made regards talks that will see him extend his stay with the Black and Whites into a fifth season.
He is out of contract at the end of this term and turns 37 in January. But the former Gold Coast Titans forward, part of the Hull side that has won successive Challenge Cups, said: “We’ve had a chat and hopefully we can sort something out.
The derby is the derby. You always want to win it and it’s always going to be a tough game, regardless of who takes the pitch.Hull FC’s Mark Minichiello
“We’ll have another chat really shortly, hopefully keep moving things forward and go from there.
“My body feels good and I’m still enjoying my rugby so I’d like to go around again.”
Minichiello is a ‘big fan’ of Jordan Lane, though, the 20-year-old back-row who has emerged through the club’s academy to impress in Super League this term.
“He’s done really well Laney since debuting and he’s a tough young kid that works hard”, he said.
“He’s not a cocky guy; he’s there at training doing as much as he can to learn and get better.
“I think he can have big future in game. He runs a great line and is a tough defender and it’s great to see young blokes come though.
“We need to keep bringing them through and pushing us ‘younger’ guys.”
England prop Scott Taylor (shoulder), front-row Mickey Paea (ankle) and centre Jack Logan (quad) are all named in Lee Radford’s 19-man squad but a fitness call will be made on them after today’s final training session.