In the latest of our ex-player feature interviews, we caught up with former Black & White hooker Richard Swain to discuss his four memorable seasons with the club between 2004 and 2007.
The former Kiwi international hooker famously captained the club to Challenge Cup Final success against Leeds Rhinos at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2005 and is one of only three Super League era players named in the club’s Hall of Fame, such was his influence on the club.
Speaking to the club during FC’s tour of New South Wales back in 2018, Swain explained the change in culture around the club at the time of his arrival 16 years ago before the side would go on to triumph in the cup.
“When I joined Hull FC, the team was pretty inconsistent, but I remember us becoming a really consistent team not too long after I joined,” Swain told hullfc.com.
“There was a sudden culture change. We went from being pretty soft around the edges to a team who was always either in the finals or knocking on the door of the finals.
“Winning the Challenge Cup in 2005 was massive and getting to the Super League Grand Final was an awesome effort in the following year. I had a fantastic four years over in Hull and I couldn’t be prouder.
“I always remember the final and how much it meant to the whole camp in general, but especially to the Hull boys in the squad,
“Out of my entire career, it’s the match that I remember best of all and going into the game, I felt a pressure on me to perform and not let the club down.”
Swain, who played alongside fellow Kiwis Motu Tony and Stephen Kearney during his time at the club, continued:
“Coming in from overseas, you’re expected to perform as a Hull player. Hull is a big footy town, I loved my time in the city and I made some great friends, but I always knew I was there to play rugby league.
“It was something I remember speaking to Stephen Kearney about before the cup final. We both wanted to put in a big performance and live up to what was expected of us.
Swain joined forces with the Black & Whites in 2004, the year before they beat Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium.
Before his arrival in the UK, current interim head coach Andy Last was representing the number nine jersey for his hometown club. He bonded well with Swain almost immediately after his arrival, albeit knowing that his position in the team was under threat.
And Swain recalls one of his fondest memories of Last, a friend he is still close with many years after being in the same Hull FC side.
“Andy was actually one of the hookers before I came over,” he said.
“I asked Shaun McRae if I could have a lift to training on the second morning I was in Hull, so he got Andy to come and pick me up.
“I thought to myself that he was a nice bloke, I sat in his passenger seat and I asked him what position he played. He told me that he used to play hooker.
“That just sums him up. He’s such a funny bloke, he’s got a great sense of humour and he’s so light-hearted.”
Swain added: “It’s good to see the likes of Kirk Yeaman and Andy all still at the club. The younger lads, particularly the Hull lads, really made a mark on me when I was at the club and you could tell how much it meant to them.”
Yet whilst Swain is quick to praise the influence of others during a period of success for Hull, few would argue with the impact the former NRL Grand Final winner himself made on the club.
A thorough professional on and off the field, his consistency and determination made him a fans’ favourite with the Old Faithful whilst an abundance of knowledge honed during spells with Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos played an instrumental role in the development of those young players he recalls so fondly.
Despite losing touch with the game in Australia after hanging up his boots, Swain regularly checks on FC’s results and in typical fashion, attempts to downplay his achievements with the Black and Whites.
“I always tried to do my best for the club and the supporters were great with me while I was there.
“I enjoyed playing for FC more than any other club in my career and I loved it over there at Hull. It was really special and I’m proud that the supporters still value my contribution to a great club.”