Zach Jebson's Hull FC debut a reward for 'crazy' years as huge pre-season now ahead

-Credit: (Image: News Images)
-Credit: (Image: News Images)


Zach Jebson wasted no time in getting to grips with his Hull FC first-team debut. Entering the field in the 26th minute, his first tackle was on England prop Alex Walmsley. He didn't look back.

The 19-year-old stood up in St Helens, offering Hull fans a glimmer of hope for their future. That future is something the club has heavily invested in, and while it's still an ongoing process, the realities are here to see.

Jebson, who performed strongly in the Reserves set-up all year, held his own. For the young back-rower, that's what it was all about, and it's given him a taste for more.

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"It was a good experience," Jebson told Hull Live. "I've been working hard for it ever since the season started. I was just very thankful to Tony (Smith) for letting me have the opportunity to play Super League. It was a good first game to play in.

"Tony told me in the first session of the week that there was a chance of playing off the bench, and then before the team run, he confirmed it. That's when it all started.

"It was great to get out there, and I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of adrenaline, but I loved it. It felt really good."

The morning after his debut, Jebson was back at his old school, helping coach the stars of tomorrow. A humble young player who has starred for the Reserves this year, he knows there is a lot of hard work still ahead, but he is no stranger to testing his limits.

Hailing from Hornsea, the promising teenager is still relatively new to Rugby League, having started his journey at his local Rugby Union club on the East Yorkshire coast. He then moved to Driffield, and while playing for Yorkshire, he was asked to try out the 13-man code and not long later found himself in the Hull FC Academy. It was a good decision.

"I used to have to take two buses in the morning just to get there," Jebson explained. "One to the bus station in Hull, then another to the club college, and then I did the same back. It was a lot of travelling, but I didn't mind it. This is what I've always wanted to do.

"I played Rugby Union before I started in the Academy at Hull. I played a bit of Scholarship and that was a step up after playing four or five games of Amateur.

"That was massive for me, as I was still learning the game; I'm still learning it now. To then go to Reserves was another step up playing against men; you've got senior players coming back from injury or players who have been left out; it's tough, and then Super League was an even bigger jump. It's been a crazy couple of years."

Zach Jebson in action for Hull FC at Sheffield.
Zach Jebson in action for Hull FC at Sheffield. -Credit:News Images

Graduating through Hull's youth systems, Jebson's performances saw him rewarded with a new professional deal earlier this year, keeping him at the club for 2024 with the option of another season. For the forward, who prides himself on a strong running game, it could be the confidence boost he desires.

"I feel like I had a good year in the Reserves," Jebson said. "I played every game for eighty minutes except the last one at Wakefield. I really enjoyed it in the second row. I think that is my position now.

"I'm also enjoying going in the middle and playing loose-forward, or even if it's at prop, just going in there when I'm needed. I'm happy to do anything. I'd say running the ball is my strong point: hitting space, getting through, and breaking the line.

"This pre-season is massive for me, and so is this off-season. I am working hard now to hopefully put myself in a good position to have a good season next year and get more games. That is my aim. I want to work hard and prove to myself that I can do it.

"It's just being confident. I think that's the thing for me. I've always lacked a bit of confidence in myself. I just need to be confident around training and in rugby and work hard, which I always do and always will. Hopefully, then I can have a good season. I'd love to play in the friendlies before the season and go from there."

Zach Jebson ahead of his Hull FC debut.
Zach Jebson ahead of his Hull FC debut. -Credit:News Images

After finishing their Super League campaign last month, Hull are currently in off-season mode, but there are still programmes to follow, and for Jebson, it's been the perfect chance to review with Tony Smith and ensure he's in the best shape ahead of November's pre-season start.

"We're still working every week now, multiple times," Jebson added. "There are things we have been told to do to stay fit: gym work, running, rowing, everything.

"We've had reviews with the coaching staff about this season and how it went, and next season too. I'm used to that; I always ask Tony when he's got time to do some video or even just to talk. He lets me know what things I'm doing well and what things he wants me to improve so I can be the best I can be.

"We've also done some of our testing, ready for next season. We've got all that out of the way, and come day one of pre-season, we'll hit the ground running. The hard work starts now."