When it comes to the Hull Derby, Scott Taylor knows as well as anyone just what the occasion means to both sides of the city’s rugby league divide.
Although he grew up a Hull FC fan and is now into his sixth season with the Black and Whites, the prop got his start in the professional game with cross-city rivals Hull Kingston Rovers after coming through their academy and making his Super League debut in 2009.
The sides meet for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon as part of Rivals Round, live on Sky Sports, with both fighting it out for a place in the play-offs and Taylor is in no doubt that adds even more significance for rugby league as a whole in and around Kingston upon Hull.
Hull FC vs Hull K R
August 21, 2021, 2:30pm
“It’s good for the city and I was absolutely gutted when KR went down a few years ago because derbies are massive games and Hull is massive rugby city,” Taylor said.
“We want derbies to happen, we want to be competitive in derbies, we want Hull FC and Hull KR at the top battling and it’s good for the city and good for the sport, and good for us as players. It’s great for amateur rugby league too.
“At the minute, amateur levels are struggling, especially in our city when it shouldn’t be with how big of a sport it is. To see both teams doing really well will make more kids pick up a rugby ball in the street and play with each other and pretend they’re playing in a derby.
“That’s what the city needs now more than ever, we need to get people behind it and kids being a part of it. That’s how I felt when I went to watch Hull as a fan and that’s what got me into the game.”
Unusually for recent seasons, it is Rovers who go into Saturday’s derby as the city’s leading presence in Super League so far in 2021, currently sitting fifth in the standings and on the back of a 26-14 win over last year’s Grand Final runners-up Wigan Warriors.
Hull FC, meanwhile, dropped out of the top six after a relatively inexperienced team went down 31-16 away to leaders Catalans Dragons in their last match, meaning Brett Hodgson’s men have now lost four on the bounce.
Taylor, who made his return in that defeat in Perpignan from four months out with a foot injury, does not expect the differing fortunes of the two sides to come into play at the MKM Stadium this weekend though.
“They’re playing well, but it’s the old cliche and you hear it a million times every time derbies come around and it’s true – form goes out the window,” Taylor said.
We want Hull FC and Hull KR at the top battling and it’s good for the city and good for the sport, and good for us as players. It’s great for amateur rugby league too.
Hull FC prop Scott Taylor
“We’ve come into derbies over the last few years and been playing unbelievable, being unbeaten, being way ahead of them in the table and they’ve been on a losing run, but we go into the derby and it’s tight as anything.
“We’re happy where we’re at, we’ve got a few bodies back and it’s going to be a nice little tasty game on Saturday, and a good, old-fashioned derby.”
It is eight years since both Hull FC and Hull KR made the play-offs and Rovers have enjoyed a resurgence under experienced head coach Tony Smith this year after finishing no higher than 10th since being promoted back to Super League after spending the 2017 season in the Championship.
The Robins have not finished above the Black and Whites since 2014 either – a year both sides missed out on the play-offs – although Taylor is more concerned with ensuring his own team make the play-offs rather than how their rivals from the east of the city are faring.
“This is my sixth season at Hull FC and every time we’ve finished on top of them, so I’ll worry about that when it comes to the end of the year,” Taylor said.
“But I don’t just worry about KR, I worry about every club and the table, and it’s about us making the play-offs.
“Whether KR are in the play-offs with us or not, that’s down to them and if we did meet them in the play-offs it would be exciting as well.
“No matter who we’d be playing this week, it would be a massive game. We’ve lost a few games now, we’re out of the play-offs for the first time probably all season and we need to get back in there with a win.”
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