Hull FC boss Lee Radford putting his shirt on star turn Jake Connor

HULL FC boss Lee Radford hopes gaining the coveted number six jersey will make Jake Connor “feel better” this season – and get the most out of the mercurial England star.

Connor has spent most of his Hull career in the centres but has long expressed his desire to play stand-off.

Granted, he has not always impressed when given the chance previously but he has been awarded the squad number for 2020 – swapping with gifted Australian Albert Kelly who gets No 14 instead.

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Radford said: “Jake’s made no secret he wanted the six shirt. To some players it’s a big thing. To me, it was never an issue.

Picture by Ash Allen/SWpix.com - 27/06/2019 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Hull KR v Hull FC - KCOM Craven Park, Hull, England - Jake Connor of Hull FC.

“Provided I was playing, I genuinely could have had the Lottery numbers on my back.

“I was never interested. For some, they are. We want to get the best out of him and if that makes him feel better so be it.

“Likewise if knocking the other bloke’s numbers down makes him train better then that’s a good job as well.”

Kelly has operated at full-back at times in pre-season and could feature there against Leeds although regular full-back Jamie Shaul is also named in Hull’s initial 21-man squad.

“It’s something to ponder,” said Radford, about Kelly at No 1. “He’s had a lot better pre-season this time around than 12 months ago.

“He needed that and it’s probably shown in his performances in off-season. We need to keep him firing on all cylinders like he has.”

Hull’s 26-24 win against Leeds in July was their first success at Headingley in 12 years so that will give them renewed confidence they can start the new Super League season with a bang tomorrow.

Asked what he expects the game to be like against the new-look Rhinos, Radford said: “Tough. Just watching their pre-season friendlies and the addition of Luke Gale in particular I think they are putting a little bit more air on the ball than I’ve been used to seeing over the last 12 months.

“Rich (Agar) did a great job last year in keeping them up as when he took over they were very much in a relegation battle.

“It’s going to be a sell-out, too, and the more of those we can get in the competition, the better competition it is going to be.”