Danny Houghton has said he expects an improved Hull Kingston Rovers side to take to the field tomorrow evening in the Hull Derby.
It will be a record breaking night for the Hull captain, who will become the outright record appearance maker in Hull Derby matches with his 33rd appearance, while also extending the record for most consecutive appearances in the fixture to 31.
His focus though is firmly on the battle in front of him, and says despite the Robins’ poor form in 2020 which sees them sat bottom of the Betfred Super League table, Hull’s mindset must be in the right place.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Houghton said: ” It’s all about being in the right head space. We all know Hull KR’s form hasn’t been the best going into this one, but that doesn’t make much difference going into a derby.
“I’ve played in plenty of derbies on the back of great wins, and it hasn’t gone to plan, and vice-verse where we haven’t been in the best form either going into the game. It doesn’t always play out the way it is expected too.
“We need to make sure the best Hull FC turns up and be prepared for Hull KR to do the same. We know what it means to both them and us. No spectators or not, it is still a huge game.”
On playing at a new venue for the Hull Derby, he added: “It is going to be different. To run out in front of a packed stadium in special, but we’ve got our heads around performing in front of no fans. Our focus is on the game, not that.
“We’ve been doing it since August now. Taking a Derby up to St Helens is out of our control – it would have been great to have it here in Hull, but needs must and it is what it is. It is no different to any other week since the restart and Rovers are in the same boat.”
Houghton also explained how his side must be wary of his opposite number Matt Parcel, explaining: “He is a sharp player. Any quick ruck and he is jumping out of there at speed.
“We have done a little bit of work around preventing that and stopping him is a big part of our game tomorrow. We need to make sure we win the ruck and the contact, and hopefully that will nullify what he is good at.”
In terms of his own performances of late, Houghton explained his is enjoying his role coming off the bench with fellow hooker Jordan Johnstone taking the starting hooker spot of late.
“I’m feeling great with it. Jordan has done a really good job since he came into the side, and we’re starting games really well when he is our starting hooker.
“We aren’t going to change something that isn’t broken. I am enjoying coming off the bench at the moment and giving something a little bit different.”
And with Hull looking to make it three Super League wins in a row for the first time in 2020, Houghton says the squad are feeling the benefits of the changes made by interim head coach Andy Last.
“Andy is starting to get a really good buy-in from across the squad, and that is starting to show with the results and performances on the field.
“We are all enjoying being around the place and working under him. Although he has been around the club for years, it feels like there has been a real freshening up around the place.”