James Cunningham says he has returned from his loan spell with London Broncos full of confidence and that he has matured both on and off the field.
The 20-year-old hooker took part in his first full week of training back at Hull FC last week after spending six months in the capital with the relegation-bound Broncos.
A product of Hull’s youth system, Cunningham has returned to his roots after having made 17 appearances for the Broncos during their most difficult Super League campaign to date.
However, the experience has aided Cunningham’s progression and he believes it’s been invaluable for him.
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“It’s been a massive step up from playing under 19s last year and I can’t really express how much it has done for my confidence playing with and against so many quality players,” Cunningham told League Express.
“Playing against Super League’s best players has given me a massive boost, knowing now that I can now compete well at this level.
“I lived in London for six months and I’ve come back more mature as a person and as a player. Before I left I was living with my parents and they can’t believe the change in me. I’ve gained quite a lot of independence – cooking my own meals and washing my own clothes, all the things you take for granted.
“The move has had an impact on me much more than just on the field and it’s been a real life experience. I’ve nothing but praise for Lee Radford and Andy Last for sending me out on loan, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
With the departure of Aaron Heremaia to Widnes next year, Cunningham is set to step up for Hull next season, as he did on Friday night at Wigan.
He added: “Tony Rea and Joe Grima showed a lot of faith in me and played me in the halves and at hooker, which has improved me as a player, and I’m really grateful to them for that.
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“Now I’m just looking to concentrate on getting my head down and improving. If I can play a couple of games in the coming weeks then that’s a bonus.
“Danny Houghton is great to learn from and he is a great role model for me.
“I feel for the boys down at London, especially Joey Grima, who got thrown in with a team that hadn’t had a pre-season and that’s how it felt on the pitch. It was a difficult situation for everyone, but I’m sure they will rebuild and be back where they belong soon.”