Interim head coach Andy Last has expressed his excitement to lead the Black & Whites into the restarted Super League season in the coming weeks, with the first-team squad returning to training for first time this morning.
Last, who took the reigns as interim head coach immediately before the suspension of the Betfred Super League season in March, led only his second session in the role earlier today as the players were welcomed back to the Jacuzzi Elite Performance Centre for the first time in over four months.
Speaking to hullfc.com on his excitement to be back, Last said: “It was a very strange feeling for me last night, like a kid at Christmas with a mixture of nervousness and excitement too. Waking up this morning and heading down to County Road for the first time in four months was great feeling.
“The excitement to be back was evident in all the players and other members of the coaching staff too. We got plenty out of our first day.”
Hull’s former assistant explained the break has given himself chance to reflect and review the current position of the squad as he prepared to lead his first match in three weeks time against Salford at Headingley.
“I’ve had plenty of time to think and review things over the last four months. One of the main factors for me is that the squad I am inheriting is a strong one. But what we need to do now is transfer that talent on paper into big performances on the pitch.
“I’ve looked closely at what our strengths are, and what our weaknesses are which need addressing too. We have put a big focus on reintroducing them to having the ball in their hands, being more efficient, moving laterally, improving the leg speed of the forwards and evasion skills of the backs.
“We want to encourage those star players to play without fear, and I think with the new rule changes, w’re going to see some of that over the coming weeks when matches return.”
When asked whether the enforced break may have been a blessing in disguise following a change in head coach, Last added: “The proof will be in the pudding.
“The way that the players have gone away, trained off their own backs in isolation, and come back in good shape today puts us in a good place. It is evident that they have been professional over the past four months and that will help us hit the ground running in three weeks time.
“In hindsight, would I have liked to have gone straight into that Thursday night game against Huddersfield? I’m not too sure. But, the guys have all had a real honest look at themselves and done some self reflections. They themselves have been quite open that what they delivered in the first stage of the season wasn’t good enough, which was pleasing to hear.
“We didn’t play near our potential in those games, probably apart from the Leeds game. So there is plenty of work to be done – my job is just to create the right environment so the boys can reach their potential.”
On a personal level, the chance for Last to lead the side, having spent the last 20 years in and around the club, is a dream come true.
“There are times I have to pinch myself and think “I’m coaching Hull FC.” It’s the club that I grew up supporting as a lad, played for, have coached at and been here for nearly two decades, and now I have the chance to lead from the front. It’s a really exciting opportunity.
“I’m more excited than worried about the intensity. I can’t wait. We are going to attack this positively. Yes, it is a challenge but we want to embrace it and take it head on with some gusto. We have a strong squad that can deliver.
“We’re going to need to freshen up the team at times and we have the depth to be able to do that.
“This season is now a sprint, not a marathon and we want to come out of this three weeks of training hitting the ground running. “