30th January 2018, 16:01 | Hull

Radford believes Hull are not far away

Radford believes Hull are not far away

Head coach Lee Radford feels Hull FC are close to ending their long wait for a first Betfred Super League title.

The Black and Whites have won back-to-back Ladbrokes Challenge Cups but have not reached Old Trafford since their only Grand Final appearance in 2006.

Hull were well placed in Super League after each of their Wembley triumphs only to fall at the final hurdle on both occasions.

While Radford admitted last year’s play-off semi-final against Leeds Rhinos was a game too far for his side, he is convinced it is a matter of time before Hull win their first championship since 1983.

“The circumstances were difficult for us,” he said.

“Tag (Scott Taylor) probably didn’t attack the last game as healthy as he’d been throughout the year and Liam Watts probably didn’t either, which up front we rely on heavily.

“For that reason we probably weren’t at our best that night but we were two points away from beating a team that went on to smash the Grand Final. It tells us we’re not far away.”

Hull have played more games than any side in Super League in the past two years and Radford has had his full squad together for only a matter of weeks during pre-season.

With several of his senior players recovering from the World Cup, it has allowed Radford to focus more on the club’s emerging talent.

It has proved to be a successful winter, with Masi Matongo and Jansin Turgut in line to travel with Hull to Australia for games against Wigan Warriors and St George Illawarra after Thursday’s Super League opener with Huddersfield Giants.

“It was a real difficult pre-season to plan because of the World Cup,” said Radford.

“As a club we’ve played 70 games over the past two seasons which is a ridiculous amount of rugby league.

“So giving everybody the right time to recuperate and get ready for the 2018 season and also the delayed return because of the World Cup has been really difficult.

“But it’s almost been a blessing in disguise. What it’s allowed us to do is put a lot of effort and time into the young lads.

“Our two pre-season friendlies, the young fellas that have participated have shown up unbelievably well for us.

“Due to that we’re rewarding one or two of them with a trip to Australia with us.

“It’s reassured me a little bit that if our blokes aren’t quite right, we can rely on them for some games.”

Radford has appointed a new captain in the off-season with Danny Houghton replacing the retired Gareth Ellis.

Taylor has been handed the vice-captaincy and he is relishing the extra responsibility.

The England prop said: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I’m a Hull lad and was a big Hull fan growing up.

“I’d like to say I’m a leader on the pitch. I want the boys to look at me and know I’m leading from the front.

“I’m hoping this will lift my game even more. I learnt a lot at the World Cup and feel I’m improving even more as a player.”