Hull FC’s Head of Emerging Talent Francis Cummins is chomping at the bit ahead of the start of the 2024 campaign, both in the Academy and Reserves Championships
Cummins has been there and done it. He know what it takes to play at the top level of Rugby League in the UK, so Hull FC’s youngsters are in the best possible hands.
His arrival in the autumn came after Hull’s Academy reached play-off semi-finals in back-to-back seasons, whilst the Black & Whites’ Reserves have also competed strongly.
It all gets underway for Cummins on Saturday 9th March, when the Reserves travel to face Bradford Bulls. The following week, the Academy Championship commences with a trip to Warrington on the cards.
With pre-season almost drawing to a close, Cummins explains how excited he is to see the youngsters in action for the first time.
“I’m really excited for the start of the season, and so are the lads. I can tell by the way they’ve been knocking each other about in training,” he said.
“We’ve got a good mix of first-year and second-year Academy players with us this year and you can sense the hunger in those second-year boys, who obviously had a taste of playing in finals footy last year. It’s up to those lads to start bringing the first-year boys up to speed with it.
“As coaching staff, we set the standards, but I also want the players to take a bit of responsibility in that regard, as well.
“The second-years are certainly stepping up at the moment. I’m sure a few will have caught the eye of the Hull fans in the pre-season friendlies over the last month. And the first-years are doing really well and I can see there’s some real talent in the group.”
There’s a lot more work that goes into nurturing young Rugby League players than just the on-field training.
Cummins has revealed that he is trying to instil some “good habits” into Hull’s youngsters, as he explained some of the things he aims to achieve while serving the club as Head of Emerging Talent.
“My role is not only to develop them as Rugby League players, but also try and get as many of them into the first-team squad as I possibly can,” he explained.
“There are a lot of things they have got to do before they get to that level. For now, it’s about them creating good habits for themselves. It’s small stuff like tidying up litter.
“But the same principle applies on a Rugby League field. If somebody else makes an error, their team mate has to clean up after them. Just little good habits like that are good for creating a strong mentality amongst the young group of men.”
His arrival in East Yorkshire saw him reunited with FC Head Coach Tony Smith, with whom he worked under at Leeds Rhinos.
Cummins has also got to know Hull’s Head of Youth, Pete Riding, with the pair liaising on a day-to-day basis, plotting the future of many of the club’s youngsters.
“I’ve worked with Tony for a while in the past, although I’ve not worked with Pete before. The conversations are going all of the time and they don’t really stop,” he said.
“I spend a day a week with the first-team squad and I’ve also been involved in the trial matches we have played throughout January and February.
“They’ve been great to work with so far and we all have aligned visions for the future of the youth programme here at Hull.”