Hull FC 'need a settled side' for play-offs, says Gentle
COACH Peter Gentle admits he has to 'bite the bullet' and decide upon a Hull FC side he feels he can stick with heading into the play-offs.
The Aussie has endured a difficult first season in charge at the KC Stadium, as the campaign has been badly hampered by injuries.
It has seen him forced to experiment with team selection at times, and throw many youngsters into the mix early.
Having seen his side torn apart at Widnes the last time out, he admits changes need to be made again for tomorrow's trip to Bradford.
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But with the play-offs only a fortnight away, he acknowledges consistency needs to be found.
"There could be some changes to the starting line-up after the last game at Widnes. I've got 21 players to choose from, so there is a decision to be made," Gentle told the Mail.
"We have to bite the bullet going into these last two games and the play-offs, though, and settle on a line-up that is going to work for us. The time is now to do that."
Gentle moved Tom Briscoe to fullback in recent weeks, something which paid off initially, but back-fired at Widnes.
He looks likely to switch back to his specialist role on the wing for the trip to Odsal, with the roles of Richard Horne and Ryan McGoldrick – who have each played both fullback and stand-off – another decision to consider.
In all, Gentle has used six players at fullback this season, and eight different half-back partnerships. But with 21 players available at training this week, he feels he has more options to be able to select a stronger side.
"At last the coaching staff have some leverage with who we can put in because we've got 21 players training and that's exciting for me to have that," he said.
"All year I have picked on form and I will continue to do that. If we are winning that doesn't guarantee players their place in the team, it is down to their performance, but we need to find a settled side."
Praising the response of his players this week following a return to training from four days off, the Hull coach believes his players are in the right frame of mind to bounce back from their Widnes horror show.
Gentle added: "The players have come back from the break much better in terms of their fitness.
"We have been battling with just 17 and 18 players now for a long time and as a result of that the boys have been playing busted.
"It was important they had a break. I told them to switch off and not think about football at all, to down tools and come back refreshed.
"You can see the players came back with that spring in their step and there is an excitement about the place again."