Long eyes homecoming with Aussie mates - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Long eyes homecoming with Aussie mates

By Nick Clowes 04/02/2010 01:48:19 PM Comments (0)

New captain Sean Long believes the winning mentality of Australian recruits Craig Fitzgibbon and Mark O'Meley will help Hull banish the memories of their nightmare 2009 season.

Hull were Super League's big underachievers last term as the squad failed to make the play-offs and have been handed the toughest possible start to this season with a trip to beaten finalists St Helens.

Coach Richard Agar has rung the changes with veteran Long switching from Saints and the marquee signings of Sydney Roosters stalwarts Fitzgibbon and O'Meley stealing the headlines.

Long, the former Great Britain scrum-half, won every honour in the game in 12 years at Knowsley Road while Fitzgibbon and O'Meley both arrive at the KC Stadium with NRL Premierships and Australia caps under their belts.

Long said: "We have signed some players who have got a winning mentality in the likes of Fitzgibbon, O'Meley and myself and that's crucial to us having a good season.

"I think that's been missing over the last couple of years. Half the time it is a confidence issue. In the past if Hull went six points down they would write it off and say 'we can't win this game'.

"When I was at St Helens even if we went 12 points down, we knew we could come back and win the game.

"We've got the quality of players here at Hull now but maybe a lot of it is confidence - Craig and Mark's class and experience can only help with that.

"I hope to get a good reception off the Saints fans - I gave them 12 good years and it was just time that we parted company. There were no grudges held. It's time to move on and it's a new challenge for me."

Ex-Brisbane hooker Shaun Berrigan is set to be available for Hull after recovering from shoulder surgery while Saints should have a fully-fit squad to welcome Long back.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Giants skipper Brett Hodgson insists the club's off-field problems will not have a bearing on their season opener against Bradford Bulls.

Six un-named Giants players were granted police bail last month after being arrested over allegations of rape.

The players will all be available for selection for Nathan Brown's men and ex-Wests full-back Hodgson - who won the Man of Steel award last year - believes the matter will not affect the Giants performances on the pitch.

"The off-field issues are not something that we're thinking about now," said Hodgson.

"It really hasn't been spoken about. It's something that's external of the football, and football is the main thing that we've been concentrating on."

Bradford will hand new Manly trio Matt Orford, Heath L'Estrange and Glenn Hall their debuts following their arrival at Odsal.

Former Wests forward Ben Galea will be missing for Hull KR's clash with Salford after failing to recover from a knee injury.

Ex-Melbourne Storm assistant Michael Maguire will also make his bow as Wigan boss with the Warriors welcoming former coach Brian Noble and the Crusaders to the DW Stadium.

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