Analysing 5 possible NRL recruits for Hull FC after double quota departure

Ben Olawumi
Josh Ralph, Brandon Wakeham, Keano Kini

Josh Ralph (left), Brandon Wakeham (middle) & Keano Kini (right)

Following confirmation of the departures of Tex Hoy & Fa’amanu Brown, there is one positive for Hull FC fans – two quota spots have now opened up, and by all accounts, the club intends to fill them.

After a few days of paper talk and rumours circulating on social media, Aussie Hoy and Kiwi Brown have now officially left the building, neither fulfilling their contracts.

With those two now out of the picture, and FC having some of their salary cap to play with as well as those already-mentioned open quota spots, here’s our pick of five players from Down Under that they could well target over the next few weeks…

Jacob Alick (Gold Coast Titans)

Jacob Alick
Jacob Alick in action for Papua New Guinea at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

Brisbane-born Alick – able to play at loose or in the second row – debuted in the NRL for the Titans last year, featuring five times at first-grade level throughout the 2023 season.

That breakthrough came on the back of a 2022 which ended with him playing for the Papua New Guinea, and representing his heritage, at the delayed 2021 Rugby League World Cup here in England. Having gone on to feature in last year’s Pacific Championships, Alick’s Kumuls appearance tally now stands at seven.

At club level, the 24-year-old also scored 12 tries in 19 games for Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup last year, and would certainly at some impetus to Hull’s pack.

READ NEXT: Where Hull FC’s 2024 start ranks among their all-time worst Super League starts

Kayal Iro (Cronulla Sharks)

Kayal Iro
Kayal Iro celebrates scoring a try for Cronulla Sharks in 2024

If you think you know the surname, you do. Eight-time Cook Islands international Iro is the son of ex-St Helens outside-back Kevin, famously known as ‘The Beast’.

Iro Jr has one NRL appearance to his name, made at the back end of the 2022 season, crowned New South Wales Cup Player of the Year in the same campaign. The 24-year-old is known to be open to a move over to Super League, with Castleford Tigers trying and failing to get a deal over the line for him last year.

The utility back’s stance may well change if he can get a bit of a run of first-grade appearances going Down Under, recently scoring his first senior try as Cronulla beat Canberra Raiders, that his second-ever NRL game. For now though, he could still be a viable option for Hull.

DAMNING: The shocking statistics behind Hull FC’s dismal beginning to 2024

Keano Kini (Gold Coast Titans)

Keano Kini
Keano Kini in action for the Gold Coast Titans in 2024

At 19, Kini – a full-back or winger – is the youngest on this list by some distance. He has impressed in the Titans’ youth ranks over the last few years, and made his breakthrough in 2023 with six NRL appearances, also featuring for Burleigh Bears in Q Cup action.

Despite losing the Q Cup Grand Final last year with Burleigh, he put in a man of the match showing and earned himself the Duncan Hall medal. The teenager featured in Rounds 1 & 3 for the Titans at first-grade level this year, but is firmly behind both AJ Brimson & Jayden Campbell in the full-back pecking order at the club, with that his preferred position.

The Auckland-born young gun definitely has time on his side and will no doubt want to push higher up the pecking order, but if he wants a fast-track route into regular senior game-time, there’s a match at FC following Hoy’s exit!

RELATED: One thing every Super League club already eliminated from the Challenge Cup needs to address this week, including Hull FC

Josh Ralph (St George Illawarra Dragons)

Josh Ralph
Josh Ralph in action for Wales at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

The only man on this list to have played in the British game is Queensland-born Ralph, who spent 2023 in the Championship with French outfit Toulouse Olympique, scoring 15 tries in 23 appearances as Sylvain Houles’ side were beaten in the play-off final by London Broncos.

Ralph fits the bill perfectly for Hull, whose search for a scrum-half is a priority. Yet to make his NRL debut, the playmaker is 26, so is too old for the recent loosening on quota requirements to come into play. Crucially though, he played for Wales – representing his heritage – in the 2021 World Cup, so there would be little issue obtaining the necessary permits etc.

Notably, having linked up with St George ahead of this season, he’s been playing in the NSW Cup for their second-grade side. Ralph currently has the most assists of any player in the competition this season having set up eight tries in four appearances, including five in one game against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles – Manly’s feeder team.

REPLACEMENTS: Who next for Hull FC after Tony Smith’S exit? Analysing 5 possible contenders to take charge at the MKM Stadium

Brandon Wakeham (Manly Sea Eagles)

Brandon Wakeham Fiji Alamy
Brandon Wakeham in action for Fiji at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

And that leads us on nicely to Wakeham, who has been playing for the Blacktown Workers this year, joining Manly’s second-grade side in the off-season just gone from Wests Tigers.

Given that the 25-year-old has 40 NRL appearances to his name already, made between Canterbury Bulldogs & Wests, and the fact that there are a few other Super League clubs already interested in him, we admit that this would be an ambitious move for Hull to make – but a bit of ambition would probably do the Black & Whites some good at the minute!

Capped 10 times by Fiji, with four appearances in the 2021 World Cup, Wakeham is primarily a stand-off, but can also slot in at nine as hooker when required. The ex-Wests ace has already played at the MKM Stadium too, with Fiji’s quarter-final exit to New Zealand coming at Hull’s home. Wakeham scored six points with three conversions in that 24-18 defeat.

SUPER LEAGUE CASUALTY WARD: The latest from across the 12 top flight treatment rooms