Kear hands Hull a reality check

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The Independent Online

"It's not so much getting their feet back on the ground, it's the number of distractions they've had," Kear says. "There have been distractions for them in the city and in the media, with everyone wanting a piece of them. There have been distractions for the players at the Great Britain training camp and distractions for Paul Cooke and Ewan Dowes with everyone telling them they should have been at the training camp."

In contrast, today's opponents, the London Broncos, have had a two-week rest. It was probably a good thing for them that the announcement of the partnership with Harlequins from next season came in a week when they had no match. Although securely in the top six, they have to keep winning to hold off any surge from Wigan, Huddersfield or Wakefield. Indeed, Hull need to maintain form if they are to hang on to third place ahead of Warrington, who are feeling full of themselves in the afterglow of the Andrew Johns signing.

Kear will be conscious that this is the stage of the season when Hull began to tail off badly last year - and then they did not have a cup final to worry about.

Their success has been achieved by putting together some apparently unlikely ingredients. Today's line-up, for instance, is likely to include three players who, this time last year, were involved in Castleford's doomed battle against relegation. "Motu Tony, Tommy Saxton and Jamie Thackray can't believe how their careers have turned around," Kear says. "They've all been important players."

Thackray has gone from being an injury-prone substitute to a member of Brian Noble's squad for the Tri-Nations. He would be less than human if the prospect of the Millennium Stadium on 27 August did not cross his mind, but like his team-mates he needs to concentrate on Super League matters first.