Match Preview – Wakefield vs Hull

Luke Gale will lead Hull FC for the first time in Super League against Wakefield on Sunday

Luke Gale will lead Hull FC for the first time in Super League against Wakefield on Sunday

Luke Gale has never been afraid of expressing himself. Indeed, it was something Brett Hodgson found out pretty quickly after signing the half-back for Hull FC last November.

Gale had barely arrived with the Black and Whites before he was making his presence felt in the squad early in their preparations for the 2022 Betfred Super League season, as well as offering pointers to head coach Hodgson and his staff on where improvements could be made too .

Far from taking it as an affront though, the 2009 Man of Steel was impressed by Gale’s willingness to offer his input – to the extent that it was one of the factors which led to the newcomer being named as captain for the new campaign.

“We wanted to let him come in and find his feet to see how he went amongst the group, but it was not long before he showed those qualities,” Hodgson told Sky Sports.

“He’s vocal, he challenges people and challenges himself to become better all the time, which is the most important thing.

“He’s good with the young lads, encourages them but still outlines what’s required, what’s good enough and what needs improvement.

“He’s even come to us as coaches and suggested what needs improving and how we can get better, and that’s what you want in your leader. It did not take too long to understand his qualities, so we’s pleased with that acquisition. “

Luke Gale is aiming to reproduce some of his best form in 2022 after moving to Hull FC during the off-season

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Luke Gale is aiming to reproduce some of his best form in 2022 after moving to Hull FC during the off-season

Luke Gale is aiming to reproduce some of his best form in 2022 after moving to Hull FC during the off-season

Gale himself is no stranger to the role, having skippered previous club Leeds Rhinos to Challenge Cup glory in 2020, and it is a job he is honored to embrace at the MKM Stadium after joining as a replacement for Marc Sneyd following his move back to Salford Red Devils.

But as well as being a leadership position on the field, the 33-year-old is embracing his mentoring role off the field as well, guiding the likes of up-and-coming half-back Ben McNamara as they start to establish themselves in the senior ranks at Hull FC.

“We’ve got some really good young lads,” Gale told Sky Sports. “It’s hard as well for them because, and I had this when I was young, if you do something wrong, they’ll be on you saying: ‘you should have done this, you should have done that’.

“It’s knowing when to say the right things and not give them too much information.

We’m just going to crack on and with the talent in this squad we want to be in the top six.

Hull FC captain Luke Gale

“I suppose I’m learning all the time because I’m not perfect and do not perceive to be perfect, but I’ll give the boys 100 percent, lead from the front and put the team first.”

Gale has joined a club coached by a man who his career intersected with, having been in the early days of his Super League career with Harlequins RL and Bradford Bulls while Hodgson was starring for Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves after moving to these shores from Australia.

Hodgson, who remembers the man he has now signed as a player being quieter during his younger days, hung up his boots at the end of the 2013 season and moved into coaching. From there though, Gale’s career went on an upward trajectory, establishing himself as one of the stars of the Super League during his time with Castleford Tigers.

Although that spell included steering the Tigers to a memorable League Leaders’ Shield triumph and maiden Grand Final appearance in 2017, the lure of returning to home city club Leeds – where he had played as a junior – proved too much for the 2020 season.

Gale captained Leeds to Challenge Cup glory

Gale captained Leeds to Challenge Cup glory

But while Challenge Cup success followed, Gale found himself stripped of the captaincy “for behaviors not aligned to team trademarks” last year. Nevertheless, he remains grateful for the chance to pull on the Rhinos shirt and is now looking forward to this latest chapter at Hull FC.

“I enjoyed my time at Leeds because it’s my boyhood club, so I was grateful for the opportunity to come back,” Gale said.

“We ended up with the Challenge Cup and when I went there, they’d been fighting in a relegation battle in 2019. We cemented ourselves in the play-offs both times and won a Challenge Cup final, so I’m really happy I got the opportunity to go back and lift silverware as the captain of Leeds.

“Unfortunately, everything comes to an end, we move on and that’s what we did. I’m thankful to Hull for the opportunity, and we’ll kick on this year and hopefully have a really productive season.”

He’s even come to us as coaches and suggested what needs improving and how we can get better, and that’s what you want in your leader.

Hull FC head coach Brett Hodgson on Luke Gale

The Black and Whites begin their 2022 campaign away to Wakefield Trinity on Sunday (3pm kick-off) and Gale is in line to make his competitive debut along with fellow new recruits Joe Lovodua and Darnell McIntosh.

Trinity, meanwhile, are likely to have Liam Hood making his first appearance for them as Willie Poching begins his first full season as head coach, and Gale knows the visitors cannot afford any slips first up as they aim for a play-off place after missing out on a top-six finish in 2021.

“We want to cement ourselves in the top six and I think the squad we’ve got is a top-six side,” Gale said. “We want to give it a real good crack, no excuses this year – no Covid excuses, no injuries, we’re just going to crack on and with the talent in this squad we want to be in the top six.”

Named squads

Wakefield Trinity: Max Jowitt, Tom Johnstone, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Mason Lino, Eddie Battye, Liam Hood, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jay Pitts, Jordy Crowther, James Batchelor, Lee Gaskell, Liam Kay, Brad Walker, Corey Hall , Thomas Minns, David Fifita.

Hull FC: Jake Connor, Adam Swift, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Darnell McIntosh, Josh Reynolds, Luke Gale, Ligi Sao, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Andre Savelio, Jordan Lane, Joe Lovodua, Brad Fash, Ben McNamara, Jack Brown, Jordan Johnstone , Connor Wynne, Cameron Scott, Aidan Burrell, Jamie Shaul.

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