LRL discuss: Why Lee Radford will be counting the days until his 2018 nightmare is over

Sometimes, you just have to take a step back and appreciate how cruel sport can be.

When you look at how Lee Radford and Hull FC’s 2018 campaign has unfolded, it leaves you wondering what an earth they have done to earn such rotten luck over the course of the last few months.

By anyone’s standards, this year’s FC squad haven’t exactly hit the heights of previous campaigns; remember that they were able to reach back-to-back play-off semi-finals in 2016 and 2017. Upon closer examination of their relentless and unforgiving injury list, though, it is little wonder that they have failed to replicate that form.

Any side in the league would struggle if they lost one or two of their chief playmakers to injury. Would a St Helens team without Ben Barba or Wigan without George Williams still be able to produce the same level of cohesive attacking rugby?

However, imagine losing three pivotal attackers at the same stage of the season; for Lee Radford, that is exactly the nightmare that he has had to endure.

Without the mesmerising skill of Albert Kelly, the game management of Marc Sneyd and the sporadic moments of excellence from Jake Connor, FC have had to rely on the extremely inexperienced and the out-of-position at a time when there has been growing unrest at the KCOM.

This is in no way a disservice to young Liam Harris, who has conducted himself admirably given the circumstances. Despite this, the 21-year old will never have expected to be the chief attacking instigator in the latter stages of the season, nor would Radford have wanted to thrust that task upon him unless absolutely desperate.

The one shining light to come out of the recent ordeal for FC is that the likes of Harris, as well as fellow youngsters Jez Litten, Brad Fash, Jordan Lane and Lewis Bienek, will be able to draw upon their newly-found top-flight experience in the months and years ahead.

If there were two or three more fully fit, fully firing members of the first team to call upon in recent games, the environment that FC’s younger players have found themselves in would have been far less daunting.

That was not to be though, and Radford and co will simply have to count 2018 as a one-off occurrence in the hope that similar anguish and misfortune on the injury front does not strike twice.

There were certainly signs of promise, of heart and of a wanting to wear the black-and-white jersey in yesterday’s game against the Castleford Tigers.

If FC’s coaching staff are able to come out of an off-season that is likely to bring many personnel changes with a good balance of energy and experience, they will be far more confident of bringing silverware back to the ‘Old Faithful’ in 2019.

About James Messenger 10 Articles
I am a third-year Sports Journalism from the University of Chester. I currently produce content for Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves' media. I write for talknorwichcity.com and have previously been the UK editor of nothingbutleague.com. Check out some of my work @J_M_Messenger