Fans rarely get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of their club.
It’s even rarer that they get to sit back and watch a head coach analyze a performance in depth, with detailed behind-the-scenes stats and analysis. That is a privilege usually reserved for the lucky few who have a role to play within the club.
Of course, every fan has seen video analysis on TV as pundits address a team’s perceived strengths and weaknesses based on a few short clips. However, most will not have witnessed it at an elite level, as the work of Superliga coaches and club analysts hardly ever sees the light of day.
However, last week, FC Helmet gave his fans and a group of coaches from the local community the chance to see Brett Hodgson in action. This wasn’t some token gesture from the Black and Whites designed to help fill their Hull and Proud week schedule, it was an in-depth session with their Australian boss, who spilled a few secrets to those fans and made their ideas clear. the expectations of the players.
Hodgson spoke for an hour to the roughly 150 people in attendance at the University of Hull, answering questions and occasionally showing the lighthearted side of his personality, something fans haven’t gotten a chance to see too often during his time at the helm. The head coach then turned the microphone around for a lengthy question-and-answer session with attendees.
Chief Executive James Clark followed Hodgson with an insight into the club’s plans off the pitch and his vision for the future, before academy couple Pete Riding and Michael Shenton answered questions and provided some analysis of their own. .
One of the things Hodgson made immediately clear in explaining the messages he gave his team during the first few weeks of preseason was the amount of responsibility he puts in the hands of the players. In one of the first sessions of the campaign, Hodgson sat the team down and asked them to produce a “trademark” Hull FC team.
He explained: “It was very important for me to delve deeper into the history of why players get the right to play for the badge, such a historic badge. Earlier in the year, we put all of our top team members into their positional groups and wanted them to research the history of the players that came before them.
“We wanted them to come to us as a coaching staff and tell us who was the player who represented the club in his position who embodied the Hull FC trademark.”
As such, greeting attendees on its first slide were images of 13 of the greatest players in FC history, each handpicked from the current crop. The likes of Steve Prescott, Kirk Yeaman, Peter Sterling, Richard Swain, Richard Horne, Gareth Ellis and Craig Fitzgibbon were included, and players were then tasked with listing the characteristics of those legends to set their own values for 2022, along with the three Hodgson’s pillars: honesty. , hunger and union.
Examples of how those values should and shouldn’t look in practice were to follow, using statistics from their clash against St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium. He went on to discuss FC’s ‘game triangle’, listing the goals the club must achieve in certain elements to win a game, with ‘competing’ on base and ‘pushing’, ‘cage end’ and ‘blocking’. 40 m’ sitting on top of it.
‘ruck win defense’ and ‘ruck win attack’ were included, with ‘win’ ultimately perched on top as the target. Individual targets are set when it comes to winning rucks in attack and tackles in defense and with those figures shown to the group at the end of each game, it only adds to the notion of individual responsibility.
As an example, a mystery player’s stats were given that showed he was making a lot of tackles but not necessarily winning those tackles and Hodgson explained how his assistant, Ellis, has been working with the player to change that. Kane Evans’ speed of play and work rate against Catalans Dragons was also highlighted, showing that he covered an astonishing 117 meters per minute in that game before the head coach explained how that complements the most powerful players in Ligi Sao and Chris Satae.
“Evans was on the field for 36 minutes at 117 meters per minute, which is huge,” he said. “He was getting back behind the ball in transition and taking the first carry when wingers or outside runners usually do.
“He is the one who invests a lot of things off the ball and that creates opportunities for Ligi or Chris to win the ruck and be quick on the next move with the ball. Not all players are the big, powerful, people-piercing type, we have different variations on the players that we have.”
What followed was a refreshingly open appraisal of the aforementioned Saints game, the kind you’d give your players on a Monday morning. The positives were highlighted and rightly so, as FC did a lot of things well in that contest, but mistakes and individual mistakes were also pointed out.
Intricate details of the game plan were explained, such as how the width of the ruck could help FC negate the Saints’ aggressive line speed, and how playing against the grain helped Hull deal with his physicality. The defense on the try line and the individual efforts of Manu Ma’u and Chris Satae showed as they went the extra mile to keep the Saints out and the coach stressed the importance of positive reinforcement.
However, he was clearly frustrated at the missed opportunities on his side and took the opportunity to analyze them in detail. There was talk of Jack Welsby’s attempt just before the break, with Hodgson pointing to the careless offside that created the chance. The efforts of Jonny Lomax and Tommy Makinson were also broken down as they focused on failures in focus or standards.
“There is a difference of where St Helens is and why they have been at the top of the table for the last five or 10 years and why we aspire to be there,” the boss said. “That’s our challenge to keep pushing these players to make sure we’re getting there and you have my word that I will.”
Hodgson is certainly doing it, and despite having to dissect a losing performance this time around, he’s reaping the rewards on the field of play. The Black and Whites have grown accustomed to showing character, steel and effort this season and that was evident in Saturday’s victory over the Wigan Warriors at the MKM Stadium.
Sure, mistakes were made in that game, but FC showed growth and for those who attended on Thursday night, they could see Hodgson’s side visibly learning from mistakes made a week earlier on Merseyside. Ultimately, the head coach will be judged on the performances of his players on the pitch, but having seen his comprehensive analysis, it’s hard not to appreciate the level of work that goes on behind the scenes at County Road.