Matty Laidlaw takes huge stride forward as Hull FC prop praised for overcoming mental barrier

Tony Smith has praised young Hull FC prop Matty Laidlaw for getting past a mental block this season. The 19-year-old played 70 minutes of the Reserves’ win over Newcastle Thunder earlier this month after spending some time on loan at the North-East club.

Now back at the Black and Whites for the time being, Laidlaw got the big stint he craved, with the young prop challenged to get through those mental walls when on the field.

Making eight Super League appearances for Hull last season, Laidlaw, still only 19 years old, took a big step forward and will likely turn out for the Reserves side again against Salford this Saturday.

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"He was great; I was really pleased for Matty," Smith told Hull Live. "He went to new levels and some levels that he hasn’t been at for some time.

"He made a real transformation there. It’s been a struggle for him so far this year in terms of getting to the right sort of fitness level, but I think some of that was mental, and I think he’s overcome some of that.

"He proved some things to himself and pushed himself beyond where he probably has been so far this year. I’m really pleased for him. He was much improved. He’s still only young, and he’s got a lot to develop yet, but he took some big steps and strides in the right direction."

Laidlaw got through some stern work in the middle of the field, driving the ball forward, pushing with the play in attack, and putting in some big hits in defence during the 58-12 victory.

Playing alongside Will Gardiner, who once again got through the full eighty minutes, the young duo set the tone, with Gardiner since rewarded with another first-team appearance in the Challenge Cup.

"It’s good for their development," Smith continued. "Neither one of those boys will get those sort of minutes in first grade at the moment, but playing reserve grade or going out on loan and getting that match time is the only way that they can develop.

"Working hard in training also helps. We try to simulate games in training as best we can, but nothing is like a match. We've got a lot of positives to work with after playing in Reserve grade.

"It’s good to be able to give them a game and for us to be able to review that with them and give them some positive feedback as well. It gives them scope to improve."

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