18th April 2019, 10:38 | Hull

Connor braced for fierce start to Hull derby

Connor braced for fierce start to Hull derby

England international Jake Connor is bracing himself for a ferocious opening to the 234th Hull derby on Good Friday.

Connor, who missed Hull FC's opening-round defeat at Hull KR in February through suspension, returned from a five-match injury absence last weekend to help them pull off a thrilling win at Catalans Dragons which puts them in good spirits for the big one.

"We're coming into the Easter period with a bit of confidence on the back of that,'' Connor said. "But form goes out of the window in the derby, certainly for the first 20 minutes when it's tuck-it-up-your-jumper time and see who comes through the other side.

"The derby is everything it's built up to be. You've got a lot of pressure on you from the fans, you're desperate to get the win.

"They're going to be out to take our heads off and likewise for the first 20 minutes and then hopefully the game opens up for us outside backs.''

 

Hull are handily placed in Super League after winning their last five away matches but Connor is wary of a Rovers side led by evergreen half-back Danny McGuire.

"The way people see things, apparently we've had a bad year but we're sat joint third and we haven't had our full-strength team out once this year so there's exciting things to come,'' he said.

"But we're expecting a tough game. They've put a good team together. They've still got Danny McGuire who's steering the ship and a few good strike players.''

Wigan Warriors coach Adrian Lam is hoping to turn the clock back 16 years by guiding his struggling side to a victory over leaders St Helens at the DW Stadium.

Lam was a member of a makeshift Warriors team lacking nine first-team regulars that managed to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit to win the Good Friday derby 24-22 in 2003.

Wigan were forced to turn to their academy to make up the numbers - Kevin Brown was one of four debutants that day - against a star-studded Saints team containing Great Britain internationals Paul Wellens, Martin Gleeson, Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long and Chris Joynt.

"We had five or six players come up from the academy on the last day to play and those players stood up,'' Lam recalled. "I think a couple of those never played Super League again.''

The opening round of Easter fixtures includes two other derbies, with bottom-of-the-table Leeds Rhinos hosting a resurgent Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils visiting second-placed Warrington.

Huddersfield were bottom of the table after the first month but have surged clear of the Rhinos after picking up four wins from their last six matches and Leeds centre Konrad Hurrell admits the pressure is growing on his side.

"Obviously it hasn't been a good start for us,'' Hurrell said. "This period is very important for us if we are to start climbing up the ladder. This is a must-win game.

"Huddersfield started a bit like us but they got their form together and started winning some games.

"They'll need to win as well so they'll come out firing. We just need to match that and play the whole 80.''