Hull have been praised for their decision to stand-in for Castleford and take on Leeds in Super League tonight (Thursday).
With the Tigers struggling with a coronavirus outbreak and injuries, which left them to just 14 available players, Hull stepped up to help fulfil the fixture.
Following the withdrawal of Toronto Wolfpack from this season’s competition, one team is free every round, and so Hull showed their commitment to the remainder of Super League by offering to stand in at barely 24 hours notice.
It’s not the first time the spare team has been used, with Castleford themselves drafted in to fulfil fixtures in earlier rounds, including against St Helens after the first coronavirus outbreak hit Super League, ironically at Hull.
The gesture by Hull comes at even shorter notice, and is remarkable considering they themselves have 12 players out.
A club statement said: “…after extensive consultation with the club’s coaching staff and senior players group, they have come to a unanimous decision to fulfil the fixture for the good of the sport.
“Despite the short notice, the players and staff have recognised and understand first-hand the challenges that Covid-19 presents and they believe this is a time for the sport to remain unified.”
Absolutely fair play to Hull FC for stepping in tomorrow night.
They have TWELVE players unavailable tomorrow. One has tested positive for Covid-19, three stood down through track and trace and another eight injured.
A credit to the competition.
— Matthew Shaw (@M_Shaw1) October 7, 2020
Massive respect to Hull FC jumping in for this game. Unfairly criticised when they were the 1st team to have a player test positive weeks ago, with their Play Off prospects on the line they step in with 24 hours notice 👏 https://t.co/FWrqJJQthv
— Stephen Owen (@StephenOwen1895) October 8, 2020
Well done Hull FC for standing in 👏👏
— Christine Ann Stones (@ChristineAnnSto) October 8, 2020
Hull FC agreed to step in and provide the opposition for Leeds tonight despite being without 12 players themselves, truly remarkable times
— Ian Laybourn (@ILaybourn) October 8, 2020
Strange time! Well done Hull FC for what will be a tough challenge for prep at short notice. Putting the game and bigger picture first. 👏🏻👏🏻 I hope it’s a good close game. (Leeds fan)
— Pete Burrows (@Burrows1209) October 7, 2020
Respect to Hull FC and the players representing your great club tomorrow. It’s already a win no matter the result 👏
— Tim Yorke (@RETR074) October 7, 2020
Fair play to Hull for stepping in 👏🏽. Hope we hammer them though 😌
— Wendy (@YorkieWend) October 8, 2020
Though not everyone has seen the positives from Hull’s gesture, with some criticising the impact on player welfare, and also questioning the purpose of the points percentage system, brought in on the basis that not all fixtures would be completed.
But it's disgraceful that the rfl asked you or any team to stand in at twenty four hours notice..
Next week..will it be twelve hours or six hours notice..
Is this being done just to satisfy sky .
— Philip whitehurst (@Toffeewolfie) October 8, 2020
Fair play to Hull, but weren’t the win percentages and 15 game threshold brought in to avoid situations like this becoming a necessity?
— Dan Tomlinson (@dantomlinson92) October 8, 2020
And of course, it wouldn’t be rugby league without the absurd conspiracy theories and criticism of the RFL, as nicely put by our friends at FeeFiFoFum.
Absolutely in awe of people saying that Hull were forced to step in for tonight's game because of RFL corruption instead of – and I cannot stress this enough – THE MASSIVE PANDEMIC THAT'S BEEN A BIT OF A THING THIS YEAR
— Fee Fi Fo Fum (@FeeFiFoFumRL) October 8, 2020
Hull will take on Leeds live on Sky Sports at Headingley at 7.45pm.