Taking on Featherstone Rovers will provide his troops with a Super League-standard test, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss Richard Agar believes.
Wildcats host Co-op Championship outfit Rovers in their second pre-season hit-out on Sunday, just three days after returning from an intense training camp in Portugal.
As a Featherstone lad Agar knows all about his hometown team and he stressed: “They are a good side – they are the top side outside Super League and have been for the last three or four seasons.
“Perhaps they haven’t got over the line in as many finals as they would have liked, but in terms of consistency they have been the benchmark.
“The club has made huge strides on and off the field and it speaks volumes for them that they are prepared to spend much of their pre-season playing Super League sides.
“We are going to get a high-quality work out and it will be a good test for us.”
The game will give Wildcats an indication of how much they have improved since the 40-26 defeat at Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day – and what still needs to be done.
“That game comes around early and we went into it a bit light up front,” Agar reflected. “We’ll see how far we have come since then.
“It was a disappointing scoreline, but I thought there were some good things in that game and it highlighted one or two areas we needed to work on and get better at if we want to improve on last year.
“Rather than worrying about it, it was good to have some of those things happen so the boys could see it and train around it.”
Rovers travel to another Super League team, Castleford Tigers, a week tomorrow and coach Daryl Powell said playing top-flight opposition is exactly the task his men need.
“It’s a stiff pre-season challenge,” he said. “But I think that’s where we are trying to get to.
“We performed pretty well against Super League teams last season and we want to do the same this time.
“Richard Agar is putting a strong team out and it’s really important we compete and make it difficult for Wakefield. We have a good group of players and they are ready for the game.
“We’ve got to the point in pre-season now where they can see the season on the horizon and getting ourselves ready to be able to win games in the Championship is tough.
“It is a good pre-season for us, it’s a challenging one, but that’s what we want.”
Powell added: “Wakefield had a big year last time and they’ve just come off a pre-season camp in Portugal.
“They will have done a lot of hard work in that time. I watched their game against Leeds and they created opportunities with a man down at times, so they played pretty well with the ball.
“Physically they look pretty good, they are big and athletic, but we know what we’ve to do – we’ve to step up significantly and I expect us to do that.”
Wildcats will give a debut to on-loan Leeds Rhinos prop Brad Singleton.
Rovers are without Matt James, Tim Spears, Sam Smeaton, Michael Haley and Tommy Saxton due to injury.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wilkes, Trout, Lyne, Wildie, Cowling, Singleton.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Hodson, Hellewell, Worthington, Brown, Kain, L Finn, England, Ellis, Crossley, Dale, Bryan, Briggs. Subs: Kaye, Lockwood, Hepworth, Bostock, plus others to be named.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.