(Main photo: Fetuli Talanoa has been in fantastic form for Hull FC in 2016. Credit: photosport.nz.)
It is fitting that Hull FC will run out onto Wembley Stadium this weekend for the Challenge Cup final wearing black and white, such is their current and historic association with New Zealand players.
In the FC squad this season are Kiwi products Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Sika Manu and Frank Pritchard.
— James (@JamesMcc1994) July 30, 2016
All bar Paleaaesina – who is still working his way back from a long injury lay-off – should take the field against Warrington come Sunday morning New Zealand time, while Hull also have former Kiwi international Motu Tony working away in the background as their football general manager.
It is not the first time the club has enjoyed success built off men from the land of the long white cloud, and a look back to the last time Hull FC won the Challenge Cup in 2005 will reveal plenty of familiar names.
That year they beat Leeds 25-24 in the decider at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in front of 74,213 people.
Playing fullback, Tony scored one of Hull’s four tries, while fellow Kiwi Richard Swain charged down a late field goal attempt to protect the one-point lead. Current Kiwis head coach Stephen Kearney also starred for the Airlie Birds.
Delve even further and some of the very best New Zealand talent from the 1980s turned out for Hull; Dane O’Hara, Gary Kemble, Fred Ah Kuoi and James Leuluai, the latter of whom is in the club’s Hall of Fame.
Through that period the club won a Championship (now Super League) title in 1982-83, along with the Challenge Cup (1981-82), League Cup (1981-82) and Yorkshire Cup (1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85).
This weekend another group of New Zealand players will look to secure their place as heroes of Hull.
People don’t forget Challenge Cup winners, especially in this particular part of the world.
Ironically they will line up against a Wolves side who are one of only two in the Super League without a single New Zealand player in their squad.
The 2016 Challenge Cup final will be screened live on Sky Sport 4 from 1.30am NZT on Sunday, August 28.
Notable Kiwis who have played for Hull FC:
Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Sika Manu, Frank Pritchard, Fred Ah Kuoi, Richie Barnett, Shane Endacott, Sione Faumuina, Aaron Heremaia, Brad Hepi, Stephen Kearney, Gary Kemble, Toa Kohe-Love, James Leuluai, Epalahame Lauaki, Hutch Maiava, Sam Moa, Hitro Okesene, Richard Swain, Jason Temu, Motu Tony, Tevita Vaikona.