A dramatic change in fortunes
ON March 10, Hull FC suffered a humiliating 46-6 defeat at Widnes Vikings.
The alarm bells started to sound.
After winning their opening two top-flight fixtures, the Black and Whites travelled to Widnes on the back of two losses, which then became three in the most dramatic fashion.
As a result, shell-shocked head coach Lee Radford revealed straight after the game that the players had locked him out of the changing room, wanting time alone to reflect on what had happened.
The outcome couldn’t have been more positive.
They immediately responded with a comfortable home triumph over Wakefield, before seeing off the challenge of Hull KR and then inflicting the first defeat of the season on leaders Warrington Wolves.
This was followed a week later with a last-gasp one-point win at St Helens, meaning a victory over the Giants tonight would make it five on the trot.
High expectations but very few rewards
THEY’VE spent big but achieved relatively little in comparison.
Ambitious Hull have spent most of their Super League life recruiting some of the game’s biggest stars, with Great Britain back-rower Gareth Ellis and Australian forward Craig Fitzgibbon just two of their stellar signings.
But time and time again, the expectations have been raised and the final outcome has been one of disappointment.
The Black and Whites have once again made some strong signings for 2016, with New Zealand Test prop Frank Pritchard the main man.
However, there haven’t been the widespread changes of years gone by, which could prove a shrewd move this time around as coach Radford strives to make his time more consistent.
Hull are set to field a slightly different line-up to the one that beat St Helens 17-16 at Langtree Park a week ago.
Tonga international winger Fetuli Talanoa could make his first appearance since leaving the field with concussion at Widnes last month, while forwards Jordan Thompson and Jansin Turgut are also included.
Fellow back-rowers Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello are both not risked after picking up slight injuries in the victory at Langtree Park, while Danny Washbrook and Leon Pryce miss out but are near to full fitness.
Centre Kirk Yeaman is included and is set to make his 350th Hull FC appearance, with prop Liam Watts ready to play his 100th game for the Black and Whites.
Hull and Huddersfield have now been involved in an intense rivalry for several decades.
It all started in the late 1990s when the pair were battling it out in the old Second Division, desperate to regain their top-flight status.
The big year was in 1998 when Hull finished top of the table and the Giants gained their revenge with an 18-0 Divisional Premiership triumph at Old Trafford. As a result, both clubs ended up gaining promotion.
Since then, Hull have won 26 of their Super League duels (including play-offs wins in 2007 and 2012) and the Giants 17.
Huddersfield’s successes include a play-off victory in 2013 when the newly-crowned minor champions secured that amazing 76-18 win at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Everything suggests it’ll be a bit closer tonight!
Can the Giants stop Frank ‘The Tank’ Pritchard?
He’s one of the biggest signings for Super League XXI – quite literally!
At a height of 1.87m and weight of 112kg he’s your archetypal man mountain, and if he gets the ball 10m from the opposition tryline, the defence could be in serious trouble.
But ‘The Tank’ is just one of several huge beasts in a massive Hull pack, which is arguably the biggest they’ve boasted during their Super League existence.
Take a backward step against these boys and you’d know all about it!