Hull KR Season Preview
Ahead of the 2019 season we have contacted fans from our Super League opponents, to help to give us a steer on how they see the season going for their team.
As Hull FC were our last club in focus, we’ve moved over to the east of the city and got the opinions from a couple of Hull Kingston Rovers fans. Our thanks go to James Purling and ‘Sidney Kidney’ for their time and insight.
In their own words…
JP: Been HKR supporter since 1978 – first game a Challenge Cup tie at Boulevard. Season ticket holder most years since then so have seen a fair view ups & downs. Go home & away usually with my wife who fortunately is as passionate about Rovers as I am! One of our 1st weekends away together was to watch HKR at Knowsley Road in March 2007, followed by a weekend camping in the Lakes. And she still married me!!
SK: I started supporting Hull KR in early 1970s. I watched a floodlit game on TV and it was Rovers and they became my team. I’m not from Hull and have lived in Liverpool all my life and my contact with Rovers from that floodlit game until Rovers made Super League was just looking for their result in the paper. My sporting love was Everton. I watched a Rovers SL game and became hooked. With work commitments and being in Liverpool it’s difficult for me to get to watch many home games but I get to all the away games in the North West.
A solid finish of 10th for Hull KR in their first season back in Super League, followed by finishing 3rd in the Qualifiers. Can you sum up last season as a Rovers fan? (Were you happy, frustrated, disappointed etc. and why)
JP: Consistently inconsistent! Beating Wigan but losing at home to 12 man Hull & throwing away a 19-0 lead in Toulouse summed us up. Injuries had a massive impact which was compounded by lack of squad depth. However coming from behind to draw away at Cas in June seemed to galvanise the team & we were more consistent from then on (also coincided with Joel Tomkins arrival at the club). At the end of day objective was to stay up which was achieved so a successful season even if it was a bit of a roller coaster (but that’s HKR all over!)
SK: Last season was always going to be one of consolidating SL status following the return from relegation so a finish in the bottom 4 came as no surprise. The qualifiers was a test with Leeds, Salford, Toronto and Toulouse but we managed to drag ourselves over the line. A win at Leeds was the highlight but typical Rovers then lost at Toulouse which put pressure on for a final game at home to already relegated Widnes.
Joel Tomkins has taken over as captain from Shaun Lunt, what do you think of this move? Is he the right man for the job?
JP: It’s certainly come from left field . I suppose most would have expected McGuire but I don’t think he’ll play the majority of games this year as he’ll rotate with Atkin & Drinkwater & you need someone who’ll play the majority of games. But like Lunt, Tomkins has been there, done it & got the t-shirt so knows what it takes to be a winner. That the squad voted for him shows the esteem he’s held in. It could be an inspired appointment.
SK: Last season Rovers had a number of players with long term injuries such as Lawler and Addy and they should be challenging for first team spots. Sean Lunt still hasn’t regained fitness following his hospitalisation and has stood down from the Captaincy. The players have had a vote and elected Joel Tomkins as the new Captain. I believe the Coach should choose the Captain and Danny McGuire would be my preference. Tomkins perhaps would not be in my first 13 and whether his appointment is ” the lads voting for one of the lads” is a possibility.
Kane Linnett and Josh Drinkwater are two eye catching signings – are you happy with the recruitment as a whole (both in and out)? Is there any other position you would look to strengthen?
JP: Very happy with the recruitment. Have more strength in depth than previous years which will hopefully smooth impact of any injuries. We’ve needed size in the forwards & have got that with Linnett & Garbutt. Cover at halfback has also been an issue but Drinkwater signing gives us options with McGuire & Atkin. Effectively got 2 new players from last year with both Addy & Lawler back from long term injury plus Vaivai & Tomkins having full pre-season gives even more reasons to be optimistic.
SK: Rovers fans are eagerly awaiting the new season. Recruitment has been superb. Linnett, Drinkwater and Keinhorst are signings that most SL teams would love to have and Robins fans feel this could be the year to make a mark on SL and climb the table.
Who should we be looking out for in a Rovers shirt this year (and why)?
JP: Hoping to see Atkin & Mulhern back up their outstanding 2018s but looking forward to seeing George Lawler back in the team. Comments from coaching staff suggest he’s the fittest player at the club, He never stops, is solid defensively, has pace and equally adept at hooker or 2nd row. He’ll be wanting get back on track after his broken leg last year
SK: Last season Rovers had a number of players with long term injuries such as Lawler and Addy and they should be challenging for first team spots.
Which of your young players is most likely to break into the first team this year?
JP: Will Dagger. Although he played a few games last year and spent time at Leigh on loan, he’s expected to get an extended run at full back in Adam Quinlan’s absence through injury. I’d also expect Mikey Lewis to make a couple of appearances – promising half back signed from City of Hull Academy he recently starred for Yorkshire Academy against the Australian Schoolboys
SK: There are a few young players aiming for first team places such as George Lawler but give the recruitment it may be the case that youngsters such as Elliot Wallis may have to wait for a chance or could be sent on dual reg.
The Super 8’s have gone and the top 4 play offs have been replaced with the top 5, theoretically giving the top place team a better chance of reaching the Grand Final – are you in favour of the changes?
JP: Yes!! Though HKR should get a loyalty award from the RFL for being in all of the Middle 8s!
SK: This season we are in the new Elstone world with shock clocks , golden point and loop fixtures. I’m sceptical about it at present. The previous system added end of season excitement and that seems to have been removed. Loop fixtures will just be ” more of the same”. I was not impressed with the appointment of Elstone. Many Everton fans like myself felt he ran the club like it was a corner shop and was unambitious so it remains to be seen how he runs SL.
How do you think Hull KR will go in 2019? (Where will they finish, Cup run etc)
JP: 7th/8th would be a sign of continued progress in my opinion. If the injury gods are kind, then there should be enough quality in the HKR squad to achieve that position. However I think most clubs have recruited well & 2019 looks like being the most competitive season for a long time. A cup run would be good but priority needs to be finishing as high as possible in the league. Could then look to challenge for silverware from 2020.
SK: My hopes and expectations for Rovers this season are a decent Cup run and at least a mid table position in SL. We could beat anyone on our day so a Wembley trip can’t be ruled out. I do think we will finish higher than our beloved black and white neighbours. Their recruitment has been very average which is surprising after their dreadful finish to last season.
How do you think the Saints will go in 2019? (Where will they finish, Cup run etc) Which player are you most worried about when we face each other?
JP: League Leaders & GF winners. Not that it’ll be needed but experiences of 2017 & 2018 will provide the drive. Think Saints will get to Semi-Final of the Cup. As to which players I’d be most worried about against HKR….all of them . Saints have quality across the park – Lomax, Percival, Fages, Makinson, Roby etc. Looking forward to seeing Naiqama in SL – a genuine quality NRL recruit. It’ll also be great to see Alex Walmsley back playing.
SK: Saints will have another decent season challenging for all trophies. One of my favourite players is Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook. He’s very under rated and is the heartbeat of the Saints team. It will be interesting to see how Saints go without Barba. They didn’t manage to win SL with him so I suspect they’ll fail to win it without him but should be there or thereabouts.
Top 5: 1. Saints 2. Warrington 3. Wigan 4. Leeds 5. Catalans
Grand Final: Saints / Wigan
Challenge Cup Winners: Leeds
Man of Steel: Blake Austin
Top 5: 1. Warrington 2. St Helens 3. Wigan 4. Catalans 5. Castleford
Grand Final winners: Warrington (surely it will be their year this time??!)
Challenge Cup: Wigan
Man of Steel: Blake Austin