Liam Kent happy to shoulder burden of Hull FC's greater expectations
AS the injuries mounted last season, Hull FC coach Peter Gentle tried to be an optimist and stressed the positives he could take from it.
The message delivered each week was one which held hope for the future. The game time his young players were getting as a result was a good grounding for the future.
Three weeks away from the start of the new Super League campaign, and Gentle's young guns are a year older, a year stronger and a year wiser.
No longer on the outside looking in, Liam Kent, Josh Bowden and Chris Green are hungry for another taste of the big time.
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At 21 years old, Kent is one of those who had to bide his time for his first-team chance. Challenge Cup appearances aside, it had been a long road to the first team for the back-rower until last year.
But with seven appearances under his belt, he is now eager to kick-on.
"Last year was a bit of a breakthrough year for me and I played a few games back to back," Kent told the Mail.
"I managed to get a new contract and, hopefully, I impressed a bit, so I was really happy with how 2012 went.
"What I need to do now is crack on in the next two years of my contract and really push on. I've been here four years now and I feel comfortable in the team. This is a big year for me. I need to kick on."
A shoulder injury at the end of last season which required a reconstruction has kept Kent sidelined in pre-season, unable to join his team-mates on the field until making it out to Tenerife.
Rating himself at about 80 per cent fit, he's now back on the field and hopeful of making an impact in the upcoming friendly games.
"I'm doing all the training but I am staying out of the contact work. I've been able to get out with the boys out here and do the skill work on the field and it's good to be involved," added Kent.
"I've still trained hard through pre-season, but it has been frustrating not being able to get out with the team until we got here.
"I hope to play either in the derby game or the match at York, but we'll see how my shoulder goes after I start doing some contact sessions.
"We don't want to rush it, so we'll just have to see. But hopefully I can play a part in the friendly games."