Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Phil Clarke looking forward to Leeds vs Hull FC in round one of Super League
Last Updated: 05/11/19 3:46pm
With the announcement of the 2020 Super League fixtures being announced, Phil Clarke is fascinated by a round-one encounter between Leeds and Hull FC.
The announcement of the Super League fixtures for the new season is always one of the most eagerly anticipated days of the Rugby League calendar and Tuesday was no different.
We see changes to the format for Easter as well as the introduction of Super League's first ever transatlantic side in the Toronto Wolfpack. I know you should not wish your life away but looking at those fixtures I'm excited for Super League 26 already!
- Grand Final rematch on opening SL weekend
- Easter change saddens O'Connor
- Magic Weekend fixtures revealed
One of the most fascinating fixtures at this stage is the round one match-up on Sunday, February 2 between Leeds and Hull FC - with the added bonus on that particular day we will be broadcasting Super League's first ever double-header as Toronto take on free-flowing Castleford beforehand.
In my opinion, Leeds have the best gameday experience in Super League.
Rhinos home games seem like fun and this is encapsulated by their Tongan centre Konrad "Hurrellcane" Hurrell. Last season against Catalans in August when he walked onto the field singing the Leeds anthem "Marching On Together" was one of my magic moments of 2019.
Here was a man about to engage in a tough, physical contest yet he's singing along with the Rhinos faithful just seconds before he goes into battle. He is a cult hero at the Rhinos due to his rambunctious style and infectious smile and I can't wait to see him in 2020. He is, of course, boosted by Tonga's win over Australia on Saturday where he kept arguably the best centre in the world in Latrell Mitchell extremely quiet, and that will no doubt have done his confidence the world of good for next season.
On the opposite team will be who I thought was the find of 2019 - Hull's Fijian flyer Ratu Naulago. He does not say much and I do not think he has time to he's travelling around the field so fast! The speed this man possesses is phenomenal.
We witnessed this several times last season and was there a finer sight in the Super League competition in 2019 than his length-of-the-field try at Catalans in June?
Naulago was in the British Army when he signed for the Airlie Birds and I hope this has inspired clubs to look outside of their traditional box when trying to identify potential talent.
I think although this match is played in Round One it is extremely important as it will demonstrate whether Leeds are capable of bouncing back from another season of disappointment and reaching the higher echelons of the table. Last season their opening four games saw them travel away to Warrington, Wigan, Salford, and St Helens which made life difficult from the start.
They never really recovered from that tough initiation, however, now they have a home match first up and this can be the springboard for better things in 2020. Conversely Hull FC also need to win to get out of a losing rut that saw them defeated in their last four games of 2019.
Are they capable of challenging in the league once again or will this be another season where the Challenge Cup is their best chance of silverware? Round One at Leeds could prove decisive in answering that question.
Either way if we get a repeat of the eight try thriller the last time these two sides went head to head I will be happy. Leeds vs Hull FC is a traditional Rugby League rivalry that extends beyond Super League's 25 year history. There are not many better ways to begin a season and I'm excited already - 12 weeks and counting!