Peta Hiku's fullback venture over as Hull KR star offers honest perspective

Peta Hiku doesn’t mind being centre of attention again if it means Hull KR keep on winning. The big NRL signing arrived at Craven Park ahead of this season intent on nailing down his favoured full-back role.

And although the Kiwi international, 31, started the opening four games in that position, there were mixed reviews. Hiku, who played centre for most of his senior career with Manly, Penrith and New Zealand Warriors, certainly endured some shaky moments.

It was no surprise when KR boss Willie Peters eventually sacked off the experiment, especially given he’d already recruited a ready-made full-back for 2024 in Niall Evalds. One-time England international Evalds played wing in the opening rounds but immediately looked more comfortable when reverting to full-back for the 24-12 win at Huddersfield.

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He enjoyed a stormer and Hiku also scored two tries at centre. Rovers have won six of their seven games since, including Friday’s excellent 26-10 success over champions Wigan.

Hiku linked with Evalds to score a brilliant 70 metre solo try in that victory and they will look to combine again when hosting St Helens on Saturday. Hiku, who has scored eight tries in just 11 games since joining from North Queensland, has no qualms with the decision.

He explained: “We sort of spoke about it [full-back] because it is Niall’s position. But we wanted to chop in and out at the start of the year. Then, as a team and with the coaches, we spoke about how when I was in the centres I just had a bit more talk and energy.

“It’s just more comfortable for me; I’ve been doing it the past ten years or so. We chatted again and it felt natural for me. We said we’d see how we’d go with me there as a team. And it’s worked out pretty good.”

The only slip-up was a 36-6 hammering against Catalans. But Rovers responded in style to that when dismantling Wigan, racing into an early 12-0 lead and never looking back.

Hiku admitted: “That was more proving a point to ourselves. We just got towelled up the week before in France. It wasn’t us. We were frustrated by that performance. Against Wigan, it was all about our start and in the first nine rounds there’s only been two or three times, if that, where we’ve started at our best.

“That’s one thing we need to take into games. If we start like we did against Wigan, it’ll be good for us. Saints will be tough. They’ve been the benchmark team for so long winning those four titles back-to-back. But we’ll grab the challenge with both hands and enjoy it.”