Hull FC look to honour club icon with a positive result against the reigning Super League Champions


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Hull FC take on reigning Super League Champions St Helens at the MKM Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, after what has been a tough week for the club.

On Monday morning, the club announced the passing of Johnny Whiteley MBE at the age of 91. The Hull-born forward is regarded by many to be the greatest to pull on the black and white jersey, scoring 156 tries in 417 games for the club. In his time as a coach, he worked at FC and cross-city neighbours Hull Kingston Rovers.

Hull FC’s long-serving hooker Danny Houghton described Whiteley as a ‘gentlemen’ and has fond memories of the club icon.

“He was just an all round good guy. He always had something to talk about and was such a gentleman. It’s a sad time for the club.”

Head Coach Brett Hodgson also gave his thoughts about his experiences with Whiteley during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I met him about half a dozen times due to COVID-19. I thought he was very nice and respectful about what I was trying to do.”

This weekend, Houghton looks set to break FC’s record for appearances made in the Super League era which currently stands at 387, a number set by Richard Horne between 1998 and 2014.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about as it gets closer. It’s something I’m obviously very proud of, but it’s just a number at the moment.”

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Going into the game, the 33-year old is well aware of the threats posed by the reigning Super League champions.

“We need to prepare to put our best foot forward to get a result.

“They are what they are. They’re the best team in the competition. Everyone raises the bar against them.

“We’ll have to be on our game for the full 80 minutes, but we’re gritty and tough enough to face the challenge.

After a winning start to the season, Hodgson believes there are still improvements needed from his side ahead of the game against the Saints.

“Our focus is to continue improving. We need to find the elements of our game which weren’t great and improve our consistency.

“You can play well against the Saints and still not get the result but we’re confident.

“If you play the way that St Helens want you to play, they’ll bash you.

“It’s a good physical and mental test to see where we are at the moment.”

This fixture will be broadcasted on Channel 4 at 12:30pm, an unusual time for a Super League kick-off, but it does not feel that way for Hodgson.

“It is different. However, we train at a similar time during the week, so it’s more unusual for the supporters.”

As for the Saints, Head Coach Kristian Woolf is expecting a similar challenge to his opposite number on Saturday as his side look to build on a dominant 28-8 victory in the season opener against Catalans Dragons.

“I expect a tough, physical challenge.

“They are a big pack that likes to play physical and you have certainly got to be strong in the middle to do a job there before you can think of anything else.

“They have some dangerous players and Luke Gale is a class player who has been around a long time and knows how to manage a team through a game. He certainly adds to them.”

Woolf also remains hopeful that his side will travel to East Yorkshire with Lewis Dodd, Sione Mata’utia and Will Hopoate in the squad after the trio picked up injuries.

“They have done a fair bit of work with the physio and our main training session is tomorrow and they are all fully fit and joining in that session.”

“I am confident all of those guys will play, and if they don’t, I am confident in the guys we have got underneath with people chomping at the bit to come in and get their opportunity.

FC will hope to avenge a very poor record against their opponents with the Saints coming out victorious in the previous 11 encounters dating back to April 2018.

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