Lee Radford has called on Hull FC’s young players to ‘embrace the challenge’ and step up to the plate against Wigan Warriors this afternoon

The Black and Whites’ head coach has been forced to name a squad without six of his most influential players this week with Carlos Tuimavave, Ratu Naulago, Manu Ma’u and Andre Savelio injured, while Albert Kelly and Chris Satae remain suspended.

However, that provides an opportunity for a number of players that they may not otherwise have had.

The likes of Brad Fash, Masi Matongo, Jordan Lane and Jordan Johnstone have been named in the squad and the head coach is looking for them to match the tenacity and desire which Wigan’s youngsters have shown recently, with Radford singling out young Warriors’ prop Oliver Partington.

“That’s what I want to keep banging the drum about, you’ve got to take these chances,” Radford told Hull Live. “I saw the story the other day about some blokes, there is an opportunity there for them over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s been handed to them on a plate and hopefully they can do something with it and see it as a challenge and respond in the right way, starting Sunday because it’s going to be a tough gig there.

“I want them to embrace the challenge. I don’t want them coming off saying ‘I was okay’. We need them to be a bit better than okay, so I think their challenge this week is to not be okay, but to impose themselves on a game of rugby and when you put on the shirt, that’s what every player should be aspiring to do.

“The likes of this (Oliver) Partington, he doesn’t remind me of a kid that wants to be okay. He’s not throwing himself into collisions to be just okay, there’s a bit more about it than that and that’s something some of our young players can aspire to.”

Oliver Partington of Wigan Warriors in action
Oliver Partington of Wigan Warriors in action

The Black and Whites encountered their first bump in the road last week as they picked up their first loss at home to St Helens.

There were moments of encouragement in the loss to Saints and Hull were even leading at the break, but a second half collapse saw them lose 32-18.

As such, it’s the reaction Radford is looking for this time around, and he’s feeling confident after a better week of training.

“I think the build-up has been a lot better than last week,” Radford said. “I was really disappointed with last week’s build-up into the St Helens game. Probably preparation was not what it needed to be and we were aware of that leading into the St Helens game. We’ve had a better week, some weeks are good, some weeks aren’t, but we’ve had a better week.

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“We need our big players to play well, that’s what they’re in this squad to do and if we have got a couple of blokes missing then it’s for them to step up as well.  Not only for the young blokes to come to the table but to have some leadership qualities as well.

“The response this week is huge for us, last week was our first setback in 2020, what’s really important is how we respond to that and what changes we make to try and get a result this week.”