Andy Last has said his side will take confidence from their two previous victories over Castleford in recent weeks ahead of today’s clash against the Tigers at the KCOM Stadium.
Hull return to home turf for the first time in over seven months this afternoon for the rearranged Betfred Super League Round 9 clash, with Hull taking on the side they have already beaten twice over the course of the last five weeks.
FC defeated Daryl Powell’s men both in Challenge Cup and league action, and will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins post-restart against the West Yorkshire side.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, brought to you in association with Jacuzzi®, Last said: “The two wins over them give us some real confidence. We’ve had a good look at both our win in the cup and in the league a fortnight ago.
“Last time out it was a well-contested game by two sides desperate for a win. They were full of emotion and aggression, and their middles did a really good job of pressuring our ball-players, and I’m expecting the same again this time around.
“They will be fresh having had 10 days rest, and they’ll have had a good look at us from that game and it should be a quality match.
“Over the course of the last month, there have been some real individual and collective improvements, so things are looking up.”
Last also commented on the significance of the Black & Whites returning to the KCOM Stadium, as he prepares to take charge of the side for the first time since becoming interim head coach.
“It feels significant. It will be nice to have some reduced traveling this week. The hour trip to Castleford the other week felt somewhat like a home game given we’ve been traveling over the Pennines most weeks since the restart.
“The boys are really looking forward to being back at home. It’s a top class facility and always a great playing surface so it will be nice to be back in familiar surroundings.”
Last says he will also be boosted by the return of some key names, adding: “We’ve got a couple of notable additions to the squad with Manu Ma’u and Albert Kelly back in the squad.
“I will have some tough decisions to make as ultimately I’m going to have to leave out some blokes who have made a real contribution in recent weeks, so there will be some disappointment there. But we’ll be able to get some fresh legs in there, with a view towards what’s coming next week with a trip to Catalans too.”
“Danny Houghton will be able to return this week. He missed out last week due to a late test result, which eventually came back 2 hours after kick-off last week.
“He drove over to Warrington having been told there was a chance he could play, but we had a 4pm cut-off time and we didn’t get the result back so I didn’t feel it was right to hold on any longer and we made the decision to put Ben McNamara on the bench. That’s just the sort of thing we are having to deal with – he’ll be a key addition this week.
“I was very impressed by how the entire club pulled together ahead of last week’s game as we had a bit of disruption that went unnoticed. As well as Danny missing out, we had our two physios who missed out too for the same reason, and we had to have one of the backroom staff step up into that position. We’ve had a lot of disruption this season but that is just the nature of 2020.”