Can Hull FC Really Make The Top Four?

By Stephen Ibbetson 

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Since taking over little more than four years ago, Lee Radford has led a transformation at the KCOM Stadium.

After a tricky start, the former Airlie Birds forward has led the club to third place in each of the last two seasons, not to mention back-to-back Challenge Cup victories at Wembley.

It has been a case of steady progress and Hull are now among the teams regularly talked about claiming silverware year after year.

They looked a good bet for another play-off finish this year, yet with six games gone the Black and Whites find themselves in the bottom four rather than the top.

They’ve come out on top in both of their home matches- overcoming Huddersfield and Warrington- yet they lost to Wigan in Wollongong before taking nothing from trips to Castleford, Leeds and, perhaps most worryingly, Salford.

So the question is this- what has changed for the East Yorkshire side?

Replacing key players

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The major issue coming into the season for Hull was the loss of two huge players, Mahe Fonua and Gareth Ellis.

Fonua’s replacement on the right wing is USA international Bureta Faraimo, but he has scored just one try so far compared to the five for Fetuli Talanoa on the opposite flank.

Concussions against both Wigan and Warrington haven’t helped him settle into the side but more will be expected as he racks up the minutes throughout 2018.

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Ellis, meanwhile, wasn’t directly replaced by any new signings over the winter. The number 13 shirt was given to academy product Josh Bowden, although Dean Hadley- another academy starlet who impressed on loan at Wakefield last season- has been the more frequent choice at loose forward, with the likes of Jordan Abdull and Danny Washbrook also filling in.

Hadley looks the likely choice for the future but Radford still has work to do to figure out his best set-up.

Read the next page for more news on Hull Fc’s mounting injury list, plus the Liam Watts debate!

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