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Rugby League: It’s magic – Kirk comes out of retirement!
Hull FC have registered club legend Kirk Yeaman as a member of the first-team playing squad ahead of Sunday’s Magic Weekend (May 20) clash against Hull KR. Yeaman (pictured), who made 374 appearances for the Black & Whites, hung up his boots at the end of the 2016 season after a stellar 15-year career with the club.
However, after taking up a coaching role with the club following his retirement, the 34-year old has been recalled to action ahead of this weekend’s derby at St James’ Park. He said: “Straight after the Featherstone game, Radders gave me the nod and told me that I might be needed in the coming weeks with the injuries we picked up. I’ve had my head down training hard since I found out I could be needed and I’m ready to go.
“I’ll find out tomorrow for certain if I’m going to be playing this weekend, but there’s no better game to make your comeback in than the derby game. For me personally, the match means a lot to me and I love being involved with them.”
Yeaman is no stranger to derby matches, having scored more tries in the traditional fixture than any other player in the history of both clubs.
Despite impressing the coaching staff and players alike in training this week, he knows the challenges he faces when throwing on the famous Black & White shirt once more.
“It’s a tough sport and I’d be stupid to think coming back after 20 months out was going to be easy. I know what I’m up against but I can’t stress how excited I am to get back out there and get the boots back on once again.
“I’ve kept myself in shape and I’ve always thought at the back of my mind that there could be another chance like this after staying on as part of the coaching staff. I retired when I’d just turned 33 so I was still reasonably young.
“This club means a lot to me. I’ve been here since I was 14 years old, and I’ve always had a great relationship with everyone here. So if I can put my name forward to step-in with all the injuries we’re struggling with at the moment, then it’s an honour to do so.”
A two-time Challenge Cup winner in both 2005 and 2016, the former England and Great Britain international bolsters the Hull FC squad which is currently missing six players from their back line including star men Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa and Carlos Tuimavave.
Hull FC head coach Lee Radford, who once came out of retirement himself to feature against Hull KR, is delighted Yeaman has put his hand up to play at a crucial time for the club. He said: “I didn’t expect this deal to happen at the start of the season, but it’s needs-must at the moment and it is a credit to him that he is stepping up for us. He’s kept himself in decent condition during retirement so getting him up to speed has been quicker than anticipated.
“There are a couple of lads in the under 19s who can play centre but I don’t think it would have done their careers any good to expose them to that environment just yet. He’s fit and he’s able and he knows what we’re about.
“He’s over the moon to be back training and especially ahead of the derby. He loves the occasion and he’ll be hoping to add to his try-scoring tally this weekend if we need him in the side for Sunday.”
Yeaman will wear the number 34 jersey.