As week two is now beginning for Hull FC in New South Wales, hullfc.com takes a look at the first week of our trip ‘Down Under’ in pictures.
The squad arrived in the picturesque coastal town of Kiama last weekend, where they set up camp for the first week. The Sebel Hotel was home for the Black & Whites, where they were welcomed with open arms by the friendly staff.
On Monday, the players went through a light training session by the seafront and just across the road from the Sebel Hotel. The rest of the day was free for the players to do what they wished, with most opting to take in the sights of the local area, including the iconic Kiama Blowholes.
Day Two saw the press speak to the players for the first time since touching down in New South Wales, as the historic tour was officially launched. In the afternoon, the Airlie Birds headed to WIN Stadium, which hosted Saturday’s clash with Wigan Warriors. Assistant coach Andy Last finished the day off by leading a community session in front of local rugby league coaches.
After an early morning video session, the players headed to the Cronin Oval in Gerringong, where they stepped up their preparations for Saturday’s match against Wigan. The squad then headed back to Kiama, where they split into groups to further prepare for the game. Representatives from Hull and Wigan were in attendance as the unique Kenny Sterling Shield was unveiled. After a busy day, the players were treated to a day at the races. Each race was named after a Hull or Wigan player ahead of the weekend’s match.
Day Four followed a similar routine to Day Three, with the players attending an early morning video review before heading to the Cronin Oval for their training session. Former coach Peter Sharp made an appearance, too! Once again, the team split into groups to work on more specific tasks. The day ended with some more fun, with the players attending the Kiama Farmers Market. Mark Minichiello won a prawn-peeling competition, beating the reigning champion of four years!
The team were given the day off on Day Five, but captains Danny Houghton and Sean O’Loughlin were on duty for a photo shoot with the Kenny Sterling Shield at the top of Mount Kiera. The players then teamed up with Wigan and St George Illawarra Dragons in the afternoon, visiting over 40 schools to conduct skill sessions.
On the penultimate day before the Super League clash with Wigan, both sides had their captain’s runs at WIN Stadium, where they went through finalising their drills ahead of the big game. Lee Radford, Mickey Paea and Liam Watts faced the media before a busy afternoon and evening. First, ‘A Day for Bert’ was held at the City Beach Function Centre, where Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny shared experiences from their playing days in front of a sellout crowd of 350. That preceded ‘A Night for Bert’ at the Illawarra Leagues club. Former Black & Whites Richard Swain and Shayne McMenemy were in attendance as fans got to speak to some ex-stars.
Saturday was match day, with the players waking up to both Houghton and O’Loughlin on the front page of the local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury, posing with the Kenny Sterling Shield. Prior to the Super League clash at WIN Stadium, Wigan and Hull Legends combined to face a St George Illawarra Legends team, with the score finishing 8-8. Then, the Black & Whites went head-to-head with the Warriors. But injuries hampered Hull’s hopes of claiming the two points and Wigan won 24-10.
On the squad’s final full day in Kiama, the players’ recover began with a short spell in the Cryotherapy van. The team then headed to Surfers Beach to engage with supporters, many of whom were singing loud and proud at WIN Stadium the night prior. At a evening BBQ, prop forward Liam Watts was presented with his 150th Hull FC appearance jersey after making the landmark game against Wigan.