THERE will be added spice, but no hard feelings when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats square up to old-boy Sam Obst when they face Hull at KC Stadium tonight.
Obst joined Hull last month, in a deal brokered by the club administrator before new owner Andrew Glover’s takeover.
The East Yorkshire outfit were able to offer the stability of a two-year contract and both Wakefield player Tommy Lee and coach John Kear – an ex-Hull duo – insisted that they have no beef with their former colleague.
“It was a bit strange how Sam went,” Lee said. “It was nothing to do with the club, it was out of our hands.
“We can’t blame him for going and he is still friends with everyone at the club.”
Lee is one of two ex-Hull players in Wildcats’ squad, alongside prop Paul King, who is back in contention after a foot injury.
Kear – who had two years as coach at Hull before joining Wildcats – described tonight as “a bit of an old-boys reunion”.
He added: “It will be nice to renew acquaintances with Sam and I am sure he will be looking to figure prominently for them.
“I have spoken to him since he left, though not this week. I wished him well and thanked him for all he did here.
“I stand by that. From what I have seen since he went there, he looks full of energy and enthusiasm, which he always had and he seems to be enjoying himself.
“I am pleased for him. He got the contract extension which Hull could guarantee him, with their Super League licence.
“Good on him and good luck to him, but not for this week.”
Lee made 71 Super League appearances for Hull before joining Crusaders for one season ahead of his move to Wakefield and he admits that tonight is more than just another game.
He said: “I have been a Hull fan all my life and I still like to see them do well.
“I had some critics there and I got a bit of stick from the fans, but I enjoy going back and I just want to play well.”
Hull were minutes away from winning at champions Wigan last week, before going down 14-12.
“On paper they have a really good team and it’s only a matter of time before they kick on,” Lee predicted.
“We have practised well this week, we’ve had a full week’s turnaround and we got a bit of confidence out of last Friday’s game (against Warrington).
“We know we need to be a bit smarter and a bit better in some areas, but if we turn up with the same attitude and put a few things right we should go a long way towards getting a result.”
Wildcats have lost four of their five Super League games so far and are on minus two points – half the punishment imposed for entering administration.
Lee admitted a win can’t come soon enough, but he stressed: “The team spirit here is unbelievable.
“We are all good friends and we’ve gelled.
“I think as the season goes on that will probably win us a few games.”
Kear is looking for Wildcats to build on the impressive defensive effort in last week’s 22-6 defeat against Warrington Wolves.
“There were improvements in all areas, but there are still deficiencies,” he said. “There’s still a lot of improvements to be made, but a lot of heart has to be taken from what we’ve already seen.”
Kear said Ben Jeffries has passed a fitness test and could make a surprise return from a knee injury, despite not being named in the initial 19-man squad announced on Wednesday.
That included the 17 players on duty against Warrington, plus King and Josh Veivers.
Broken hand victims Motu Tony and Matt Blaymire remain on the casualty list and have been joined by Kevin Penny (ankle) and Jeremy Smith (hamstring), who were hurt playing for the reserves last week.
Kear said: “Matty saw the specialist on Wednesday and we got very good news. He should be cleared to play in the next fortnight.”
Hull are without centre Kirk Yeaman, who is serving a one-match ban. In-form prop Mark O’Meley also drops out from the team which lost at Wigan, due to a foot injury.
But Sean Long could return from a calf problem and Sam Moa and Reece Lynn are also hoping for a recall to the 17.
Hull: from: Phelps, Sharp, Whiting, Turner, Briscoe, Horne, Obst, Dowes, Houghton, Radford, Westerman, Tickle, Fitzgibbon, Washbrook, Lauaki, Manu, Long, Lynn, Moa.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Murphy, G Johnson, Griffin, Dean, George, Hyde, Lee, Korkidas, Rinaldi, P Johnson, Mariano, Morrison, Howarth, Gledhill, Wildie, Amor, Henderson, King, Veivers.
Referee: Thierry Alibert (Toulouse).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.