Leeds Rhinos: It has been one ‘Hull’ of a week for rugby league – Ablett

Hull FC coach Lee Radford.
Hull FC coach Lee Radford.
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THIS WEEK started with some really sad news.

Everybody at the club was hit hard on Monday when we heard Harry Jepson had died.

For everyone at Leeds, Harry was a big part of our club and he had been around the place much longer than anybody could remember.

As a young player coming through at the Rhinos you soon realised how well respected he was, not just at Headingley, but throughout the game.

He was rugby league royalty and I have honestly never met anybody who had a bad word to say about him.

Harry knew rugby league inside and out. He loved the game and the Leeds club and he could tell you stories about both all day and all night if you’d let him.

He was 96 when he passed away, but he was still very sharp and his memory was incredible. He could talk about players and teams and things that happened in the game 70 or 80 years ago and remember them like it was yesterday.

For me, what was most remarkable about Harry was the fact he was so widely respected in rugby league, without ever having played the game.

He had a big influence on the Leeds club and the sport and everyone enjoyed listening to him and hearing his opinion.

Most importantly of all though, he was a really lovely man.

On behalf of all the players at Leeds I would like to send my condolences to his friends and family.

Headingley will not be the same without him.

On a happier note, congratulations to Kevin Sinfield on his new job at the RFL.

I have to admit, I am not totally sure what his role as rugby director will entail, but I was delighted when I heard he was back in rugby league. I am certain he will be as big a success off the field as he was on it.

Kev is that sort of bloke. Whatever he does, he gives it 100 per cent and he never settles for second-best.

I think whoever at the RFL appointed him needs a pat on the back. Kev is a perfectionist and works incredibly hard at everything he tries. I don’t think people realise just how much effort he put in to play at the level he did for his final few years at Leeds, while he was also studying for a Masters degree in sports administration. To combine the two is a remarkable achievement.

The RFL are getting somebody who is respected throughout the sport and has the experience of playing at the highest level and captaining his club and country.

I think he will have a big impact behind the scenes and he will bring the best out of the people he is working alongside.

It has been a pretty good week for the RFL, with Kev’s return and then a thrilling Challenge Cup final which must have made fantastic viewing for neutral fans and people who only watch our sport occasionally.

I was pleased for Hull. There’s some good people involved in that club and whenever I’ve played against them they have always tried to play the game the right way.

In the past they have lacked a cutting edge, but they have definitely got some steel about them now and the way they clawed their way back into the final, after Warrington looked to be in total control, was credit to them. I said last week I thought it might come down to fine margins.

I think Kurt Gidley being injured and having to go off was a massive turning point and once Hull got a try on the board and a sniff of a fightback, spirit carried them through.

Lee Radford has had a lot of stick during his time as coach, so credit to the club’s owner Adam Pearson for sticking by him.

We know how tough it is to get your feet back on the ground after a Wembley win so it will be interesting to see how they back-up in the Super-8s.

Having no game last weekend was a good opportunity for us to freshen up and get over a few bumps and bruises.

But we have got a massively important game against Salford tonight so we haven’t had much time off.

Salford will be desperate. They need to win or they will be heading for the million pound game and we know if we can get the two points we will just about be safe in Super League for next year.

I think we are in a pretty good place going into it, we have had a long preparation and I’m confident we will come up with a strong performance.