Long-serving Richard Horne left on Hull FC's fringes
HULL FC stalwart Richard Horne looks to be facing a battle to make the first 17 for the season opener after being picked to play at York City Knights tomorrow.
It comes as coach Peter Gentle says there are just two places left up for grabs in his side for Friday's Super League clash at Leeds.
Gentle suggested he'd not risk any of his preferred side to start at Leeds in the match against York following last Sunday's derby friendly with Hull KR.
And having chosen to rest the likes of Daniel Holdsworth, Aaron Heremaia and Brett Seymour tomorrow, Gentle appears to have shown his hand for the Super League opener.
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Horne will be joined in the FC side to face the Knights by fellow experienced first-team players Richard Whiting and Paul Johnson.
And the coach insists this is a chance for two of them to earn their place in the squad to face the Rhinos.
"Richard Horne missed the trip to Tenerife and he's not played a lot of rugby, so we need to get some game time into him," Gentle told the Mail.
"It is a similar situation with Whiting and Johnson. They've both played in just one of the pre-season games and they need the run-out and some time on the field.
"That is what this game is about for me.
"It is about getting some game time into those who have not had a lot. I've got an idea what my team is now for the Leeds game, but there are still a couple of positions up for grabs."
Horne, who will partner Danny Nicklas in the halves at the Huntington Stadium, has featured in both Hull's pre-season games so far.
Having missed the trip to Tenerife to be at the birth of his child, the 30-year-old started the opening friendly in the halves with Seymour, before the duo came on in the second half last week against Hull KR.
With Gentle not expected to carry a back on his bench against Leeds, the half-back role alongside Holdsworth at the Rhinos appears to be a choice between Seymour and Heremaia.
Johnson and Whiting will be eager to impress, with both still firmly in contention to feature against the reigning league champions.
Liam Watts' absence and Danny Tickle's bicep injury has left a back row and prop position up for grabs, with the duo set to compete with Chris Green and Josh Bowden for a spot.
Hull FC team to play York: 1 Shaul, 2 Lineham, 3 Crooks, 4 J.Briscoe, 5 Latus, 6 Nicklas, 7 Horne, 8 Green, 9 Cunningham, 10 Bowden, 11 Hadley, 12 Whiting, 13 Johnson. Bench: Wilson, Starling, Turgut, Braham, Ward, Abdull, Stark.