Denive Balmforth aiming to cement long-term Hull FC spot after Newcastle loan move

Hull FC youngster Denive Balmforth is tipped for a bright future
-Credit: (Image: News Images)

Denive Balmforth is loving his time on loan at Newcastle Thunder. The young Hull FC hooker was the first player to make the move up to the northeast as part of the two clubs' dual-reg agreement and has already made five appearances in the Championship this year.

Debuting against Swinton Lions, the 19-year-old most recently played in the draw at Barrow Raiders last Sunday and is benefitting from the step-up after starring in Hull's academy side last season.

Playing every week, it's exactly the development he needs with fellow Hull youngsters Matty Laidlaw and Nick Staveley also joining the Thunder a fortnight ago. Settling into his temporary club, Balmforth was prepared for some aspects of the move but admits one thing caught him by surprise.

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"The speed of the game and the intensity it's played at, it's another level compared to academy and reserves," Balmforth told Hull Live. "I knew that was going to be the case. You're up against ex-Super League players and grown men who have been doing this for a long time.

"There are also other lads in my position who are coming through the system that are at other clubs getting game-time. I was prepared in that aspect but the physicality was a bit of a shock to me. It took me a couple of weeks to find my rhythm but I feel like I'm finding my feet now.

"Newcastle have been really good. I get along really well with Chris Thorman. I've built quite a tight relationship with him. The lads have been great with me as well, they've welcomed me with open arms."

Fully focused on what he needs to do, Balmforth knows he's at Newcastle for a reason with a long-term goal in mind. That long-term goal is to establish himself at Hull FC but to do that he knows he has to impress for the Championship club.

Playing various positions, he's on his way to doing just that, hitting his straps and getting used to the grind of weekly rugby league again.

"The main thing for me being out there is just getting minutes under my belt, getting the experience in, and getting game fit," Balmforth continued. "That's one thing I've always struggled with, fitness, but I feel like I'm getting fitter the more games and the more minutes I play. I'm getting there now, it's a long season and I'm only just getting started.

"It takes a bit of getting used to going into a new team as a new face. You've got all the moves to learn and bonds to make, it's a slow process, but I'm getting there now.

"They don't just play me at nine either, I can fill in wherever I am needed which is very beneficial for myself and also for the team. I've been jumping in at 13 and also played a bit of half-back. I'm easy either way, wherever they need me to play, I'll do the best I can."

With no timeframe on Balmforth's loan move, or Laidlaw's or Staveley's for that matter, it's very much a case of seeing how things go. In an ideal world, it seems the trio will stay in Newcastle as long as possible and get that vital experience with the hope of then pushing for selection in the Hull first team.

Balmforth shares that viewpoint: "I'm enjoying myself at the minute and the main thing is game-time," he said. "For my personal benefit, I felt like the right thing was to take that step up into the Championship and not be playing reserves, especially as it's quite staggered, they get a game once every other week. I need to be playing week in and week out so I can develop the best I can.

"Obviously, if Hull need me I'll go back with open arms. I miss the boys and I miss the craic but until they need me I'm focused on Newcastle. I train three times a week with them; Tuesday night, Thursday night, and Saturday morning in the team run.

"When the conversations about coming on loan did start to happen, it was either I move up to Newcastle and live up there full-time or we wouldn't go through with it. I nip into Hull in my time off just to keep my foot in the door and see the boys and carry on training. It's quite rare at the minute but I've got a lot of friends up in Newcastle and a bit of family. It's a good place to be - but you've got to be careful, especially as a Leeds United fan."

The end goal, though, is very much to be a Hull FC player. Balmforth's current deal with the black and whites runs until the end of 2024 and it's the nine jersey at Hull he has his eye on.

To achieve that, he knows there is a lot of hard work ahead, but after making his debut last year and playing three more times in Super League, Balmforth, who prides himself on his rugby league IQ, leadership, and strong running game, knows the capability is there.

"That's the plan and that's the long-term goal," Balmforth added. "There's plenty of work to do and there are lots of aspects of my game that I still need to work on, small details in defence and things like that, but that's where my priorities lay long-term. It's all on me and hopefully, within the next year or two, I can nail those areas down and cement myself in the team.

"When I signed for Hull, I didn't think too much about debuting, obviously it's every young lad's dream, but I didn't feel like I was ready at the time. Once I made my debut, though, I kind of kicked on from there. I played another three games and felt like I held my own as well. To continue doing that is very much the long-term plan."

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