COACH John Kear admits Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ season has levelled out – but he still expects them to finish on an a high.
Wildcats will go into tomorrow’s visit of Huddersfield Giants on a run of three straight league defeats and Kear accepts his young side’s progress has stalled.
“If you looked at an improvement graph, it went up very quickly,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, after the Cas game (an extra-time defeat in the Carnegie Challenge Cup fifth round) it has plateaued.
“We have got to manage that, help the players and nurture them so they can come back stronger. We are having a blip, but I still think we will finish on a high.
“You’ve got to be realistic. Most opposition coaches have remarked on how well we’ve done, but also said we might hit a wall at some stage.
“They could be being proved right, but we’ll see. I am sure we’ll come through it.”
Defence is the priority this week as Wildcats bid to get back on track. Kear said: “Look at the number of points we’ve conceded in the last two weeks – 42 against Catalan and 34 against Salford.
“That’s a lot and it has been the major focus of this week.”
Wakefield captain Glenn Morrison received a late call-up to the Exiles bench for last night’s Origin match against England as a replacement for Warrington’s Matt King.
King, who was set to start at centre, has been released for personal reasons after his wife gave birth to their first child on Thursday.
Wakefield will check on Morrison before tomorow’s match, but Giants will be without former Wakefield half-back Danny Brough, who is facing two months on the sidelines after suffering ankle ligament damage in last weekend’s win over another of his previous club, Castleford Tigers.
“Danny is an outstanding rugby league player,” Kear said. “There is no bigger fan of Danny Brough than me.
“I know he worked pretty hard to get into the England team and I’m sad he missed out.
“I have spoken to him this week and given him my best wishes. I would sooner he was missing (tomorrow’s game) having played for England against the Exiles, than be missing as he is now.
“You take advantage of good players being missing, but I would sooner he was fit and playing for England.”
Kiwi utility-player Motu Tony – an off-season signing from Whitehaven – could make his Wildcats debut after being named in Kear’s initial 19.
He suffered a broken hand in pre-season and also spent time away from the club on compassionate leave. Another New Zealander Jeremy Smith is back in the initial squad, with Dale Morton, Paul Johnson and Luke George also vying for a recall.
Julien Rinaldi (shoulder) is ruled out due to injury and Warrington Wolves have recalled on-loan forward Tyrone McCarthy. Greg Johnson is dropped.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Blaymire, Morton, Murphy, Dean, J Griffin, Moore, Lee, Korkidas, Davey, Amor, Mariano, Henderson, Morrison, Higgins, Hickey, Smith, Tony, P Johnson, George.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Wardle, Lawrence, Hodgson, Cudjoe, Brown, Crabtree, Robinson, D Griffin, Gilmour, Horne, Kirmond, Lunt, Mason, Raleigh, Patrick, Wood, Cording.
Referee: Thierry Alibert Toulouse).
Kick-off: Sunday, 3.30pm.