SELF-BELIEF is at the heart of Wakefield Trinity’s remarkable rise, according to in-form second-rower Matty Ashurst.
Bottom of the table in 2015, Trinity finished eighth last year and have continued to progress, beginning Betfred Super League round 17 in fourth spot.
If they can maintain it, that will secure a play-off spot at the end of the Super-8s and they are also one win away from a second successive appearance in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Ashurst, who joined Trinity in 2015 from tomorrow’s hosts Salford Red Devils, reckons Trinity’s surge is due to “a bit of belief in ourselves”.
“We know within our group what we can do,” Ashurst said. “If we play to our strengths and play the best we can, we can challenge any team.
“We are doing that more this year, we’ve had more consistent performances when in the past maybe we’ve fallen away. We have got a bit of consistency this year which is good.”
The big question now is can Trinity maintain their recent form – and possibly stay in the top four? Long-term injuries to Jacob Miller (broken leg), Adam Walker (knee) and Tinirau Arona (hamstring) are a blow, but Ashurst insisted: “If we carry on the way we are playing anything is possible, but we are not looking too far ahead.
“We are trying to take each game as it comes and win each game. The top-eight has got to be the aim for everybody at the start of the season.
“Nobody wants to be battling in the middle-eights. We achieved that last year, but then we fell away and didn’t do ourselves justice. Hopefully, we can really mount a challenge this year.”
After a stunning win at champions Wigan Warriors on Monday, Trinity face another huge test tomorrow. Second-placed Salford are on a seven-matching winning run, one more than Wakefield and Ashurst said: “They are one of the form teams.
“They are going really well, they are second just behind Castleford so it is going to be a big game. Both teams have strung some wins together and will go in with a bit of confidence. We beat them at home earlier in the year, but they had a chance to win it at the death. It could have gone either way and I think it’ll be the same this time.”
Tomorrow’s game comes just 11 days before the sides meet at Salford in a Cup quarter-final. Ashurst said: “Everyone’s excited for the Cup game. We got to the semi-finals last year and had a bit of an under-strength squad and didn’t perform well.
“We want to go one better this year, but we have got a couple of big games first. We want to deal with those and consolidate our place in the table and then we can concentrate on the Cup semi-final.”
Danny Kirmond and Scott Grix are rested this week.
Salford Red Devils: from O’Brien, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Dobson, Kopczak, Tomkins, Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Hauraki, Tasi, Lannon, Krasniqi, Brinning, Johnson, Welham, Bibby, Carney, Hasson.
Wakefield Trinity: from Annakin, Arundel, Ashurst, Batchelor, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Fifita, Finn, Gibson, Hirst, Huby, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, Lyne, Sio, Tupou, Williams, Wood.
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.