James Smailes: Good deals done, now Hull FC can focus on play-offs
THROUGHOUT the last two months Peter Gentle's message has been clear and repetitive, Hull FC are focused on the present, not the future.
With the rumour mill in overdrive in recent months and players from across the league linked with the Black and Whites, Gentle has continually been asked about his plans for next year.
The well publicised pursuit of Rangi Chase has only served to deflect attention to 2013.
It has been a source of frustration for Gentle, who has tried to keep everyone in the here and now.
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Determined and confident his side can cause a few upsets in the play-offs, Gentle is eager to focus on what his side can do this year, not the potential for the future.
And yet in a week of positive news for the club it has been easy to shift focus onto 2013.
Both Gentle and Danny Houghton have committed their long-term future to the club in the past seven days, while Daniel Holdsworth and Ben Galea have, as predicted, signed contracts with the Black and Whites. Of the four deals Gentle, as head coach, is probably the most significant, bringing further stability.
On the playing front, while the Australian pair of Holdsworth and Galea will attract the most column inches outside of Hull, for me Houghton's deal is the best bit of business.
The hooker has developed into one of Hull's best players in the past two years and must surely have a chance of featuring for England in next year's World Cup if he can maintain his current progression.
Knowing Houghton will be at Hull for the next five years at least gives Gentle the security of knowing one of the team's key roles is filled by one of the game's best young players.
Let's not forget there is a game to be played on Sunday, though.
The Giants will arrive at the KC buoyed by their performance against Leeds, described by Danny Brough this week as the best the side have played all season.
That type of form will make Huddersfield formidable opposition, but Hull have already slayed them this year and can do so again.
As is always the case with the Giants, dominating the battle in the middle is the key.
Hull have the players to do that and importantly have a front row in good form.
Andy Lynch has been terrific all season and was the worthy player of the year winner, while Mark O'Meley, perhaps inspired by the carrot of a new contract, has been back to his aggressive best in recent weeks.
With Liam Watts improving and the possible return of Sam Moa, Hull have the players to match the Giants in the middle.
If they do that, the game is there for the taking.