Privilege to be involved in the Hull derby in front of fans - Gareth Ellis

I FEEL really privileged, to be honest, and very thankful to have been out there in the middle of it all in that derby - even from a coaching point of view.

Sometimes, when I was out on the field with the players on Saturday, I stayed out there longer than I normally would - just to soak it all up and take it all in!

You have to appreciate atmospheres like what we all witnessed at the MKM Stadium at the weekend.

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It was brilliant to have fans back in for the derby and it was so good from a sporting perspective. Like many, I have been guilty of talking a little negatively about the sport in recent months with everything that is going on with it and there hasn’t been a lot of positivity.

But every now and then, the players throw up a game like that and it is hard not to be entertained. If you’d watched rugby league before, it was your first time or you were a neutral supporter, or certainly if you’re a Hull FC fan, you must have enjoyed that as a spectacle.

Both teams - us and Hull KR - went hammer and tongs. The game wasn’t over until there was about 30 seconds left on the clock and it was a credit to both sets of players to perform at such a level that kept the crowd and people at home on the edge of their seats for the full 80.

I thought both teams threw the ball around a fair bit.

The difference Jake (Connor) makes to us was obviously really evident on Saturday in terms of playing that third pivot that the best teams at the moment play with from the full-back position.

Hull FC look a much better side with Jake Connor operating as a third pivot, says Gareth Ellis. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

He just adds some real quality to our shift plays and the number of assists he has speaks for itself.

Jake’s obviously a real entertainer as well. It was a really, really good team performance and a real advert for the game but there was some really big efforts there as well.

We spoke about it as a team; there was a lot at stake on Saturday in terms of the feelgood factor about the club from us and the supporters and everyone associated with Hull FC.

Obviously, the derby itself - with it being such a big game - but also the standing of where we are in the table and the top six.

Jamie Shaul made a successful return to action for Hull FC in the derby win over Hull KR - operating out of position at hooker rather than full-back. Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com.

Hopefully this can be a bit of a turning point after our poor form in recent weeks. It has the potential to be a turning point for us - if we’d have lost, it’d have been five successive defeats - and it is up to us now to kick on.

There’s no better way to do that in a derby win. The boys will be really buoyed from a real good, gritty performance with some great attacking flair involved.

That should really bode well for us moving forward as well as bragging rights for the next few weeks before we face KR again.

It was unbelievable to see Jamie Shaul out there again after his long-term injury.

It was always the plan to play him hooker: to stick him in the middle and get him running from dummy-half. What he probably wasn’t ready for was the defensive responsibilities that come with that role.

I’m sure Shauly has a whole new respect for Danny Houghton now after doing his stint there in the second half!

He’s worked so hard and he’s done it with a smile on his face, these last nine months or so. It was just good to see him out there enjoying himself. The way the boys got around him when he put that shot on Will Maher under the posts to force the error, it must have been great for him as well.

It’s such a tough time when you’re injured and you’re out doing things by yourself. You do feel a little bit detached from the team but for that moment he’ll have felt welcomed back in and really positive feeling all the pats on the back and being part of the team again.

Shauly was really up for playing nine. He was just happy to be playing after being out so long and obviously with Jake playing so well and Hodgo getting to the point where he’s making no bones about the fact Jake is his No 1, he has to find a way into the team.

That’s whether he impresses enough to earn a right at full-back or playing on the wing or, in this case, playing hooker for a little bit. He played his part.

He is a dangerous ball player and when we’re on top at any stage he can play a really big part of what we are; the true character and professional he is means he is happy to do that.