Hull FC are approaching the new Super League season with an optimistic spring in their step.
With Brett Hodgson at the helm, the club are confident they have a man who can give them an edge and in new recruit Josh Reynolds, they boast a half-back up there with the best the competition has to offer.
There is also hope that fans will be allowed back into stadiums at some point in the not too distant future and which would provide the club with light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
With the new season in mind, Hull Live makes some predictions about Hull FC’s year.
Josh Reynolds to hit the ground running
Reynolds has been making all the right noises since his move was announced and everything he has said suggests he is ready to make the most of this fresh start.
The half-back, who led Canterbury Bulldogs to two Grand Finals previously, struggled to settle at Wests Tigers and his career stalled as a result.
As such, he jumped at the chance to link up with Hodgson once more, who he knows from Wests and he’s made a positive impression with the Black and Whites in training.
He’ll look to forge a bond with the likes of Marc Sneyd and Jake Connor in the coming weeks and he’ll have high hopes of impressing Hull fans early doors when the campaign gets underway.
Records to be broken
Marc Sneyd will be hoping for as many games as possible this year as he chases down a club record.
Only three men have kicked more goals in a Hull shirt than the scrum-half, but Sneyd could end up on top of the pile this time around.
It’ll be a push but Sneyd is 101 goals behind the club’s most successful goal-kicker of all-time Joe Oliver, who slotted 687 in his time with FC. Given the opportunity Sneyd could chase that down this year and leapfrog Coin Hutton (628) and John Maloney (674) in the process.
Danny Houghton is another who could break a record this season. The skipper has made 366 appearances for the club so far and it seems likely he will become the club’s leading appearance-maker in the Super League era this year.
Richard Horne currently holds that honour with 387 appearances, as such Houghton needs to play 22 times to surpass his former teammate.
It’s just out of his reach this year, but Houghton will almost certainly join the exclusive 400-club in 2022.
Fonua to find form again
Mahe Fonua won’t be in a hurry to look back on last season. The outside back struggled for form over large periods of the campaign and ultimately cut a frustrated figure at times.
As such, he’ll have approached 2021 with the bit between his teeth in the hope he can rediscover the type of form that saw him become a crowd favourite during his first spell at the club.
Hodgson, who he knows from Wests, will be working closely with him over the coming weeks in the aim of bringing the best out of him on the pitch and he’ll be keen to impress with competition for places set to be fierce on the edges once more.
Hull have their eyes on silverware this year and if Fonua is firing, few will be able to stand in their way.
Ben McNamara was the only player to make a senior debut for the club last season but with Hodgson keen to promote youth, more could make the step up this time around.
Jude Ferreira seems the most likely candidate at this stage. The young centre is still low in the pecking order but as the season progresses, he could be one in line to make an appearance in the side.
The head coach asked seven players to make the step up at the start of the year and they will be sticking around in the first-team fold for the remainder of pre-season at least. As such, Hodgson could look to one or two of those at some stage, as well, should they be ready.
Defence to be shored up
Hodgson has made no bones about it, he arrives hoping to be instil a defence-first mentality in this Hull side and follow in the footsteps of St Helens and Wigan, who prided themselves on their ability to keep teams out last year.
Hull shipped 436 points over the course of the regular season, an average of 25.6 points per game, which is simply far too high for a side with title ambitions.
The head coach wants to see that come down considerably this year and that will be his main focus over the course of pre-season, tightening Hull up and ensuring those weaknesses which were so often exploited last year are a thing of the past.