Kye Armstrong delivers key message on Hull FC duo as young forward reflects on own return

Kye Armstrong made his comeback from a shoulder injury for Hull FC Reserves.
Kye Armstrong made his comeback from a shoulder injury for Hull FC Reserves. -Credit:SW Pix

Kye Armstrong says it was like applying a 'cheat code' to play alongside Hull FC duo Franklin Pele and Jayden Okunbor, with the 19-year-old forward insisting that everyone connected to the club needs to get around them and support them as they look to find their feet at the Black and Whites.

Looking for vital minutes and to pick up some confidence, the overseas pair featured off the bench for Francis Cummins' side in Saturday's 34-20 reserves victory at Warrington Wolves, with Armstrong also making his comeback from a shoulder injury.

All three players ticked plenty of boxes in the clash, with Pele and Okunbor each playing for around an hour. Pele, who it's easy to forget is only 23 years old, was almost impossible to stop at times, scoring two tries, with Okunbor, who started at prop before moving to the edge, also running harder than in any of his displays so far this season. Armstrong, meanwhile, got 25 minutes of action in what was his first appearance at any level this year.

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And for the teenager, who is gunning to make his own mark at Hull FC, there needs to be some patience and understanding for both players, who arrived from Australia ahead of the new season with big expectations.

"It was like a cheat code," Armstrong told Hull Live after the game. "It's good for them to get the minutes they need, and it was also a good opportunity for all of us lads to be able to play with them.

"I think Jayden and Frank need these opportunities where they can just get that confidence and where they know exactly how and where they want to play. Ock played in the middle for the majority of his stint, and he's picking up that confidence. That's what these boys need to do. They've travelled half the world to come and play rugby, and if they're not settled, then they're not settled.

"I don't think people realise how big of a deal it is. Frank's only come with his Mrs., and Ock's come on his own. This is my local team, and I've got good people around me, family, and a good base to build on, whereas they've moved over here from a different country. That's where we all need to tie in as a club and get around them."

Returning to the field after a long layoff, Armstrong knows a thing or two about adversity. Already in his young career, he's had his fair share of injuries, with two shoulder surgeries and a jaw problem coming his way. However, it's now all in the past, with the loose-forward, who played on the edge on his return, now looking at the future and what comes next.

"It felt good," he said. "It was nice to ease into it and get a good 25 minutes. It's something to build on, and we go again in the next reserve game. I didn't get much good ball here, but I got some carries nice and early out of yardage and I made some good metres. I wasn't in the thick of it in the middle—in the washing machine, as I like to call it. I was well looked after.

"Franny said to me before the game: get these minutes under my belt, and then we'll look at going in the middle against London reserves. Of course, it's been a long rehab for me, having had two surgeries, but I'm feeling stronger than ever now. My fitness is up there, and I'm happy with the way I'm going. Hopefully, I can just keep on building.

"I've got a lot of good people around me. I'm in my hometown, and I'm happy. I think that's the main thing going forward: trying to stay happy. I've had a couple of niggles now and two surgeries, but I'm all good. Touch wood, that's it, and hopefully, I can keep progressing and get that debut that I'm working towards."

Signing a long-term deal, understood to be two years with the option of a third season, Armstrong, one of the most highly valued young players at the club, knows that opportunity, with Hull's well-known stance on youth development, will come. For now, it's about patience and doing the tasks he's set out to do.

"You've got to look at it like that as a young kid," Armstrong continued. "If an opportunity comes, you've just got to take it. That opportunity could be on my doorstep any week, through bans, injuries, or players coming down to the reserves to get some confidence in themselves.

"It is easy now to say that if I were fit, I could have had that opportunity earlier, but I wasn't, so that's on me. If it comes now, I'll take it, and we'll keep moving forward. I just need to keep building my confidence in the reserves games, or whether I go out on loan or not, and then come back to the club and make my debut, then happy days."

For Armstrong, it's all building blocks, and he knows he's got to knuckle down now and impress interim head coach Simon Grix, not to mention new director of rugby Richie Myler, who both have one thing in mind: making Hull better.

"We like Grixy, and we all want to play for him," Armstrong added. "It's the same with Richie. They just want to do the club good and make us all proud. It's nice to all be on the same level and just try to do that badge justice. That's all everyone wants to do."

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