New Hull FC signing Craig Fitzgibbon believes this weekend's trip to the Sheffield Eagles is a great opportunity for his side to perfect their performance ahead of Super League's big kick-off.
The Black and Whites have struggled over the last two seasons due to a series of injuries to key stars but are hoping to arrive at the start of Super League with a clean bill of health and hence improve the side's rugby league betting odds.
The signing of Fitzgibbon, along with fellow Australian Mark O'Meley and experienced playmaker Sean Long will give the side a far more competitive edge, something the coaching staff believes has been lacking in recent years.
The trip to the Don Valley stadium is Hull's last warm-up match before a tricky start to Super League at St Helens on February 6th and Fitzgibbon's will be treating the game just as seriously as any of his 19 appearances for Australia.
He told the club website: "We need the hit-out at Sheffield and that will hopefully fine-tune a few things for us. If we go into it half-hearted, they are the games you get hurt in.
"We still have plenty of work to do and we are not out of the woods yet.”
Coach Richard Agar has hinted that he may rest key players, but the Sydney Roosters record point scorer is keen to get a final run-out.
Fitzgibbon made his debut for the Black and Whites in the victory against city rivals Hull KR and says he's excited about the upcoming local derbies after experiencing the raucous atmosphere for the first time.
He said: "It's made the mouth water for what's to come in the derbies,"
"It's a good starting point but you wouldn't want to rely on that to get you through the season. We feel we have plenty of improvement to do and that's pleasing.”
This year, the return of Super League clashes with one of the showpiece Rugby Union tournaments and no doubt Union fans with time free bet Six Nations rugby will outstrip the popularity of the rival code's domestic curtain raisers.