No favourites for Gentle as Hull FC coach unveils squad numbers
HULL FC coach Peter Gentle insists he won't have any favourites when it comes to team selection – and only his players' performances in pre-season will determine who starts the campaign.
Gentle confirmed his squad numbers with the players yesterday, with the club making the announcement this morning.
Eagerly anticipated by fans, the announcement of the squad numbers is often seen as an early indication into a coach's thinking for the year ahead.
Gentle is keen to point out, however, it is his side's efforts in training and not the number they have been given which will influence his thinking.
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Following the announcement, attention immediately turns to the half-back positions, with last season's under-pressure scrum-half Brett Seymour keeping his number seven jersey, while Hull stalwart Richard Horne is out of the top 13 for the first time in years.
A new-look right-sided partnership sees new recruits Jason Crookes and Joe Arundel paired at numbers two and three, while marquee signing Gareth Ellis has been handed the number 11 shirt.
Shannon McDonnell will wear the number one shirt vacated by Wade McKinnon early last season, with fellow Aussie Ben Galea at number 15, one place behind Horne.
The 32-man squad, which again sees number 18 taken by the Hull fans, is concluded by New Zealand hooker Aaron Heremaia wearing his lucky number 33 shirt.
"I'm not here to play favourites and the players know it is their performances in training over the next couple of months and the trial games that determines who starts against Leeds," Gentle told the Mail.
"We've got a squad that has a lot of experience now and our top 25 or 26 players have all played Super League games which is great.
"That competition for places is bringing the best out of everyone and it puts pressure on everyone to perform. It's that pressure which is driving training and it is those performances in training which will determine our team. There will be no favourites."
Hull FC squad list: 1 Shannon McDonnell, 2 Jason Crookes, 3 Joe Arundel, 4 Kirk Yeaman, 5 Tom Briscoe, 6 Daniel Holdsworth, 7 Brett Seymour, 8 Mark O'Meley, 9 Danny Houghton, 10 Andy Lynch, 11 Gareth Ellis, 12 Danny Tickle, 13 Joe Westerman, 14 Richard Whiting, 15 Ben Galea, 16 Richard Horne, 17 Liam Watts, 18 The 18th Man, 19 Jay Pitts, 20 Paul Johnson, 21 Chris Green, 22 Josh Bowden, 23 Ben Crooks, 24 Liam Kent, 25 Tom Lineham, 26 Danny Nicklas, 27 Jack Briscoe, 28 James Cunningham, 29 Jamie Shaul, 30 Dean Hadley, 31 Alex Starling, 32 Ryan Wilson, 33 Aaron Heremaia