Write us off at your peril, warns Tickle as he eyes third final tilt

Experienced Danny Tickle believes critics are ill-advised to write off Hull FC as they bid to defy the odds and reach Wembley.

Danny Tickle

The England second-row hopes to inspire the East Yorkshire club to victory in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves on Sunday evening.

Admittedly, Hull have not been given much chance considering their five-match losing record in Super League while their revered opponents are seeking a ninth straight victory.

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Furthermore, given Warrington are holders and are aiming for a fourth cup success in just five years, it is understandable why they are so favourably backed.

But when asked by the Yorkshire Post if it is wrong for Hull to be ignored in such a fashion, Tickle said: “Yes, I think it is.

“All the media and people you speak to, including the Warrington fans, say it’s going to be a Warrington v Wigan final with Wigan also drawing London.

“But people can say what they want. We know ourselves we’re going to be massive underdogs the way we’ve been playing compared to Warrington.

“We’ve got our own problems to fix up at the moment but in my opinion all the form goes out of the window here.

“It’s a totally different competition and if we can turn up and play to the best of our ability from one to 17, with people coming off the bench making an impact, we can rattle Warrington.”

For all the problems that are now jeopardising Hull’s play-off place – they will fall out of the eight if Wakefield defeat Leeds tomorrow night – they certainly have the ability to counter anything their opponents throw at them.

That has been proven once before this season when – despite missing four regulars including Tickle – they won 26-16 at Warrington in May.

Indeed, Peter Gentle’s side were the last team to defeat the beaten 2012 Grand Finalists, who have since only reaffirmed their potential for a league and cup double.

“People said Warrington under-performed that night but our aggression in defence didn’t give them time to play,” continued Tickle, who showed he is nearing his best again with a forceful try in Friday’s 19-12 loss at Bradford.

“If you let their ball-players play in dinner suits then they’ve got the talent.

“You look at their back-rowers and then one to 13, really, they have the quality right across the field.

“But if we can turn up with the right mentality and cut down the space then, hopefully, we can put in a good performance.”

Hull’s main problem, of course, and the biggest frustration for all concerned, has been their irritating inconsistency as was illustrated once more last week.

Previously, they had produced a thoroughly professional victory to win their Challenge Cup quarter-final in Perpignan only to self-implode at Odsal.

Tickle, who joins Widnes Vikings at the end of the season after seven years at KC Stadium, admitted: “The way we worked for each other in France was most important; our determination in defence.

“Catalan are a good team and it’s always tough going down there to play.

“We have been dipping in a bit of form in the league but we watched a couple of clips in review of Bradford and then switched straight on to this cup game. We can get our own things in place and I’m sure it will take care of itself. We come up against a totally different opposition in Warrington.

“They’re going to be massive favourites but how many times have you said that before about teams?

“You have to make sure you give one of your best performances of the season on a personal level and we’ll make sure we are ready.

“With semi-finals football, we know we have to perform for 80 minutes.”

Tickle, meanwhile, rates the game at Huddersfield as the biggest match of his career.

It says plenty about the magnitude of the contest considering the goal-kicker has represented England, played in a Super League Grand Final and already twice reached the Challenge Cup final.

However, given the surging 30-year-old is yet to pick up a single winners’ medal, he knows time is running out and his best chance of glory could lay with the Airlie Birds in the weeks ahead.

“It is a huge game,” admitted Tickle, who started out his career at Halifax in 2000.

“It’s definitely the most important game of my career and, as I’m getting older, probably one of the last chances I’ll get to play in a semi-final.

“It’s the same for all the other lads, though. It’s a lifetime opportunity to get to Wembley.

“I was quite lucky I got there in 2008 with Hull. We lost (against St Helens) but there were some memorable moments.

“We’re all ready for it now. It’s going to be a tough ask – the way Warrington are playing at the moment any team would struggle to compete and beat them – but, hopefully, we’ll do everything to make sure we’re ready for it.

“I played for Wigan in the 2004 final and was beaten by St Helens so maybe I can get third time lucky myself.”