Hull FC Academy captain Lennon Bursell believes reaching the play-off semi-finals for a second consecutive year has been great for building a strong mentality within the squad.
Hull’s youngsters head to Merseyside this Sunday for a repeat of last year’s Academy play-off semi-final meeting with St Helens Under 18s at the Totally Wicked Stadium (1.00pm kick-off).
Finishing in the top for in back-to-back seasons is testament to the positive strides being made by the Centre of Excellence and the club’s youth programme, and Bursell believes being involved in big games is important for harbouring a winning mentality.
“It’s really good practice to be involved in these big games. It’s good for building that winning mentality,” he said.
“When you come up against the top sides in the league, it’s about not coming up short, as we have done in the past. We’re all pushing so hard to get to the Grand Final this year.
“For a big part of the group, we’re coming to the end of our time as Academy players at Hull and we want to make sure we finish in the best possible way.”
Hull’s Under 18s finished their regular season campaign with a 32-24 victory away to Castleford in scorching heat last weekend.
Although FC ran in seven tries at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, they were still made to work hard for their win by a resilient Tigers outfit.
Ultimately, Bursell feels like the challenges the Academy have faced in recent weeks can only hold them in good stead going into a win or bust semi-final tie.
“The last two games haven’t been our best performances of the season. We were well beaten by Warrington and then we finished the season with a gritty win against Cas last weekend – that’s what is keeping us grounded going into this semi-final,” he said.
“I feel like you need one or two challenging games leading into finals football because it gives you a bit of a humbling, it keeps you working.
“I’m sure Saints will have had eyes on us all week and they’ll be targeting some of our weaknesses. We’ll be looking to do the same to them.”
Hull FC’s Academy side are proudly sponsored by Pearson Electrical.