Rugby League - Gentle happy with cup preparation

Hull coach Peter Gentle is confident his side can learn the lessons from their recent hammering in Perpignan as they seek to turn the tables on Catalan Dragons in the Challenge Cup.

PA Sport
Rugby League - Gentle happy with cup preparation

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Hull FC take on Catalan Dragons in Saturday's Challenge Cup quarter-final

The Black and Whites' 30-4 Super League defeat at Stade Gilbert Brutus a month ago sparked a run of four straight losses which effectively scuppered their chances of a top-four finish and left the Cup as their most realistic hope of lifting silverware this year.

Hull forward Andy Lynch claims FC were "ambushed" on their last visit and Gentle believes they will be better prepared as they seek their revenge in Saturday's quarter-final.

Gentle reckons he saw enough signs during their 22-16 defeat by Huddersfield last Sunday to suggest his side are on their way back and also believes the current hot spell in England will help acclimatise his players for their return to the south of France.

"We are up against a very similar-sized pack again this week and the weather over here has probably helped us as well," he said. "There's a few things we've done over here to try to acclimatise a little bit to the conditions and a few little things that we've done differently this week in terms of our preparation.

"We try to prepare the same way every match but there's a different feeling to a cup game and there's more intensity to everything. We'd like that intensity every week but it's very difficult over a long season.

"Whether you talk about it as a team or not, we've all been aware that this game has been coming up for a number of weeks now. We're all excited about playing in this and it would be a real boost for the city if we could get through and be one step closer to Wembley."

Hull are boosted by the return of in-form centre Ben Crooks, who missed last Sunday's game with an ankle injury. They can also call on the vastly experienced services of skipper Gareth Ellis after he was cleared of an illegal tackle in the Huddersfield game and Gentle believes his senior players will have a big role to play.

The Dragons have lost prop Julian Bousquet and centre Mathias Pala to suspension and second rower Elliott Whitehead is ineligible, having played in Bradford's fifth-round tie against London Broncos.

But Catalan coach Laurent Frayssinous has recalled former Cup winner Leon Pryce and 39-year-old Steve Menzies, who were both rested for last week's league game against London and also has forward Jamal Fakir and centre Daryl Millard back from injury.

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