Hull KR ready to go against FC – Michael VellaThursday, February 17, 2011, 10:00
by Zack Wilson
Hull Kingston Rovers forward Michael Vella is relishing the chance to play against rivals Hull FC in the weekend’s season opener at the Millennium Stadium.
The Robins will travel to Wales knowing that the Black and Whites will be keen to avenge their play-off defeat at the hands of Justin Morgan’s men last season.
“It’s always a big occasion playing a derby and playing in Cardiff makes it a great occasion,” Vella told Code13.
“Hopefully it’ll be a full house. It’s a bit of a tough weekend to expect fans to get there, with it not being a bank holiday.
“But hopefully we can get a lot of fans there.”
Rovers pre-season has been disrupted by the recent wintry weather, but Vella remains confident that his side are sharp and will be ready to go against the Airlie Birds. “It’s not been too bad. It’s been a little bit tough with the weather, but every team’s got to put up with that,” he added. “I’m just glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to playing.
“Just training indoors, which is a little bit different to what I’m used to, but we’ve got the work done. We’re up to speed and ready to go.” The 32-year-old recently admitted that this could be his last season at the top level, but he is feeling fit at the moment. “I’m quite lucky that my body’s been quite good over the years,” he explained.
“I’ve not had any major operations or anything like that. My knees, ankles and shoulders are all fine, so it’s just looking after the muscles these days, which isn’t too bad.“You get a massage here and there and you feel alright.”
One thing Vella would like to achieve before he retires though is to play for the land of his ancestors, Malta.
“I’d like to, I just haven’t had the opportunity to with the timing of the off-season and going home to Australia and stuff like that,” he explained. “It is important for me to get home to Australia so that my parents and in-laws can see our children. I’ve not had the chance to play for them yet, but I will definitely before I retire.”
Meanwhile, Vella is tipping some of the Robins’ rising generation of young players to impress over the course of the coming campaign.
“Jordan Cox – he’s a young kid with a really great attitude who’s been training well,” he said. “Scott Taylor has played a handful of Super League games but he’s been training the house down. “We’ve got a lot of good young kids in our squad who are looking to impress.”
Rovers are still waiting for the arrival of marquee signing Willie Mason as the saga surrounding the forward’s work permit and visa lingers on, but Vella is confident that the former Kangaroo will bring some real quality into Justin Morgan’s team. “When he gets here he’ll be good for the squad,” he said. “He’ll add some depth to the squad and he’s a quality player.”
As for Rovers’ aims for the new season, Vella believes steady progression is the key at Craven Park.
“[Our aims are] just to improve on last year. Every year I think our squad improves and our facilities improve,” he said. “We’ve got to keep improving and I think we can do that.”