Calming influence of Tommy Lee can help Hull KR deal with derby intensity

Tommy Lee, in action against Hull FC earlier this season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Tommy Lee, in action against Hull FC earlier this season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
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AS SOMEONE who grew up in Hull and has already played on both sides of the city’s famous derby, Tommy Lee needs no introduction to what is about to come tomorrow.

The experienced hooker heads back to Hull FC – where his career started in 2005 – with the Robins for the Good Friday lunchtime kick-off, looking to help secure a second win of the season over their fierce rivals.

Tommy Lee. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Tommy Lee. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

For some involved, the hype, passion and pressure mounting around the 234th meeting of the sides, could become too much.

But, at the age of 31, Lee should be one of the calming figures as Rovers head into the cauldron of the KCOM Stadium

“Good Friday is the game you always look forward to,” said the player, who made 77 appearances for Hull before leaving for the ill-fated Crusaders in 2010.

“It’s a real pressure game and both clubs definitely need the win so it makes it a bit more tasty.

It is a different week leading up to it, there’s a lot more intensity and a lot more on the line. It makes it a special week.

Hull KR’s Tommy Lee

“The Good Friday one has just got a different feel about it, too, and I can’t wait to get out there.

“Being involved in these kind of games means a lot. I just try to make the most of it.

“I remember Rovers coming up to Super League (in 2008) and the derbies being massive occasions.

“I missed out on a couple (for Hull) but played in a couple and they were massive games; they gave the appetite back to the city.

“It is a different week leading up to it, there’s a lot more intensity and a lot more on the line. It makes it a special week.”

To add to the intrigue, of course, he actually grew up as a Black and Whites fan.

“I did used to follow Hull FC but I’m firmly a red and white at the moment and really enjoying my time here,” said Lee, who, with such versatility, has proved a valuable recruit since joining from St Helens at the end of 2017.

“We’re desperate for the two points. It should be a tough Easter with Warrington coming to our place on Monday. We’re ready for it.”

The Robins defeated Hull 18-16 with a last-minute try in the reverse fixture back on the opening day of the season, Lee coming off the bench.

Tomorrow they have former England hooker Shaun Lunt and Australian prop Mitch Garbutt both back in the squad after sitting out last week’s Challenge Cup win over Leigh Centurions while front-row Lee Jewitt – after a lengthy spell missing owing to concussion – is also named in the 19-man squad.

Will Dagger and Harry Bardle drop out with winger Will Oakes coming in to replace the suspended Ryan Shaw.

Where Rovers could have two props returning, Hull potentially have three.

England’s Scott Taylor (calf), Mickey Paea (ban) and Masi Matongo (shoulder) all return into Lee Radford’s squad while youngster Jack Brown retains his place after a fine debut in Saturday’s win in Perpignan.

Hull are up to fifth, four points ahead of Rovers, and seeking a third successive win.

Elsewhere, fit-again Huddersfield Giants prop Paul Clough is set for his first appearance since last year tomorrow when they visit Leeds Rhinos who recall Tonga star Konrad Hurrell who was rested for the Challenge Cup win over part-timers Workington Town.

Meanwhile, Leeds’s sixth round Cup tie at Bradford Bulls has been chosen for coverage on BBC 1 on Saturday May 11 (2.30pm) with Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors on Sunday May 12 (2.15pm).

Hull’s tie against Castleford Tigers on Friday, May 10 (7.35pm) and Giants versus St Helens on Sunday, May 12 (6.05pm) will be televised live by Sky Sports.

Bradford stand-off Dane Chisholm has joined Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers on loan for the rest of the season while former Bulls and Hull KR second-row James Laithwaite has come out of retirement to join Leigh.