FLYING winger Peter Fox reckons his former Leeds Rhinos academy colleague Lee Smith will be a big star for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Smith is set to line up against Rhinos at Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Monday, in only his third appearance for Wildcats.
Fox came through the ranks at Leeds alongside Smith and is confident the 25-year-old former England international is an astute capture as Wildcats aim to build a side capable of qualifying for the play-offs in 2013.
Smith scored 68 tries in 156 appearances for Rhinos before joining Wildcats, initially on loan and then a permanent deal, earlier this month.
He played three different positions in as many Grand Finals for Leeds, scoring a try in each and being named man of the match in the 2008 Old Trafford win over St Helens.
Smith got his first try for Wildcats in last Sunday’s 35-14 win at Huddersfield Giants and Fox said: “He has settled in really well.
“I played with him in the academy at Leeds for three or four years and I know what he is capable of.
“He got his first try on Sunday and when he gets a few games under his belt and he gels with the team, he’ll be really good for us.
“He has got that experience in big games and he knows what you need to do to make breaks and score tries when you are playing against the top teams.”
Smith’s arrival has added extra strike power to Wildcats’ outside-backs, but Fox believes their chances of beating Leeds in four days’ time hinge on how well they defend.
In two meetings with Rhinos this year – at Headingley in the Carnegie Challenge Cup and Stobart Super League – Wakefield have scored 58 points, but conceded 82.
“They always seem to score plenty and they are a team that comes on strong at this time of year,” said Fox, who was a try scorer in last month’s 44-40 thriller.
“Defence is going to be the key for us, because they have got a lot of players who can score points and they’ve got stars throughout the team.
“You’ve got to make sure you defend well against them, then hope your attack will take care of itself.”
Rhinos are on a six-game winning run in all competitions, but Wildcats are also in buoyant mood after last Sunday’s eye-catching victory at Galpharm Stadium.
“It’s always a big game against Leeds, but we know we won’t go into it with any pressure,” Fox added.
“We want to finish the season on a high, with as many wins as we can. We’ve shown we are capable of beating top-eight sides and over the last few games we want to have some fun and tough it out. We are just looking forward to backing up what we did on Sunday.
“If we can put a full 80-minute performance in we will have a good chance, but we’ve not done that much this year.
“We have been our own worst enemies with regard to errors in yardage, coming away from our own line.
“On Sunday we seemed to play for the full 80 minutes and we showed what we can do.”
Fox revealed Wildcats’ players have been carrying some bruises in training for the Leeds game, following a team-bonding paintball session earlier this week – and he confirmed geography isn’t a strong point in the Wakefield camp.
He said: “It was good, until we started peppering our own team. I think the highlight for me was attacking Danny Washbrook from behind.
“It was supposed to be Yorkshire versus the rest of the world, but I got put in the world team because I’m from Hull.
“I wouldn’t mind so much, but I’m not even from Hull – I’m from York!”