Hull FC: Richard Whiting says settled position will improve his game
RICHARD Whiting says a chance to concentrate on one position this season can negate what he describes as a "step backwards" in his form.
Whiting's utility value proved a major asset to coach Peter Gentle last season, with the fans' favourite utilised in no less than seven different positions in games last year.
Such was Whiting's ability to adapt, the back-rower was even asked to play as a makeshift prop.
Despite winning the fans' player of the year award in 2011 and again being shortlisted last year, Whiting believes his versatility has proved both a blessing and a curse in recent years.
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With Hull now boasting cover across the board, the 28-year-old has been told he can finally focus on his preferred back-row position.
"I'm pretty sure Pete just wants me to concentrate on playing in the back row this year. It is one of those things where I will do whatever the teams needs me to do, but the focus is to play back row," Whiting told the Mail.
"It can be a poisoned chalice being able to cover so many positions. It is great for the team, but over the last few years I feel like I have struggled with form because I've been moved around so much.
"Pete tried to leave me playing at 13 last year when he could, but because of injuries I had to cover other positions.
"Moving around hinders the form you are building because just as you feel like you're getting your form and rhythm, you find yourself in a different position.
"I have felt over the last few years that I was taking a step backwards with my form and hopefully this year I can get an extended run and get some good form together."
Having been used predominantly as a utility player under former coach Richard Agar, Gentle offered Whiting the opportunity to play in the back-row last season and was rewarded with a solid start to the campaign.
But as injuries took hold, the ex-Featherstone man came to Hull's rescue and the fore once again until injury curtailed his season.
Starting in the second-row, an ankle injury against Catalan Dragons in early August ended his campaign and began a frustrating few months on the sidelines for rehab.
"Missing out on the business end of the season was very disappointing and the quicker I am playing again the better," added Whiting, who made his return against Castleford on Sunday.
"It has been great to be back in with the lads because it can get a bit lonely in rehab being locked away in the gym.
"I'm feeling good and there is a lot of excitement in the camp. I think that has come off the back of a higher intensity this year.
"This has been the most intense pre-season I've ever been involved in and that is breeding excitement and confidence. Physically, we are all feeling good and that makes a difference too."