Wakefield Wildcats: Agar calls for a rethink over stop-start campaign

Oliver Wilkes.
Oliver Wilkes.
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Super League’s stop-start spring schedule needs a rethink, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss Richard Agar believes.

Stobart Super League matches have been alternating with Carnegie Challenge Cup rounds since the middle of last month.

And Wildcats’ fourth-round cup exit at the hands of Leeds Rhinos has left them kicking their heels for two weekends out of the last three.

Super League will take another break next month – for the mid-season clash between England and Exiles – though Wildcats will be in action in their delayed round-three clash away to Leeds Rhinos.

The series of interruptions to the league campaign have come just after the busy Easter period and Agar reflected: “We’ve had one game in a month and we had four games in less than two weeks before that.

“Being out of the cup is one reason, but six or seven other Super League teams are out of the cup as well.

“To have so many games in a fortnight and then one in a month is not great. You are grateful to have a week off from time to time, but this isn’t ideal.”

Agar insisted that he isn’t looking for excuses ahead of tomorrow’s visit of high-flying Warrington Wolves, who have played right through, including a tough cup win over Catalan Dragons in the south of France last week.

“That’s where we are,” he said. “It has enabled us to get some players back fit and available and we are picking from everybody apart from Oliver Wilkes who is still out with his thumb injury.”

Wildcats were pipped 32-30 when the sides met at HJ Stadium earlier in the season, in a game which saw Warrington score one of their tries on the seventh tackle.

Agar said his side have taken confidence for tomorrow from that performance, despite the defeat.

“We went okay,” he recalled. “It was a close-run encounter and there was a bit of controversy.

“This time we’re hoping for another exciting game, but a different result and not as much controversy.

“It is a big test for us. They are a great side, they are fighting at the top of the table and they had a really good win in the cup last week.

“They will have some players back this week, but we are more concerned with ourselves.

“Like always, we have done due diligence on the opposition, but there are some fundamentals in our game that we have to get right for longer periods for us to become a better team.”

Agar accepts Wildcats will need to be much improved from the 38-12 defeat at St Helens two weeks ago, though he reckons the performance that evening wasn’t as poor as the scoreline suggests.

“We were well-beaten, but in certain elements we improved from the week before,” he said. “However, in others we slipped back again.

“We are striving to be as consistent as we can. “

Captain Steve Southern and fellow forward Ali Lauitiiti have both been named in Wildcats’ initial 19-man squad after recovering from injury.

Isaac John, Paul Johnson and Kyle Trout also come into contention. Matt Wildie is left out from the side which lost at Saints, Matt James is suspended and Andy Ellis has joined Featherstone Rovers on loan.

Warrington have Stefan Ratchford back in contention after injury. Matty Blythe, Rhys Williams and Ben Currie are also vying for a call-up, but Chris Bridge and Joel Monaghan drop out from the team which won in France.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Mathers, Fox, Collis, Sykes, Cockayne, John, Smith, Raleigh, Aiton, Amor, Mariano, Kirmond, Washbrook, Lauitiiti, Southern, Mellars, Wood, Johnson, Trout.

Warrington Wolves: from Hodgson, Williams, Atkins, Riley, Currie, Briers, O’Brien, Carvell, Higham, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison, Grix, Wood, Cooper, McCarthy, Ratchford, Blythe.

Referee: Tom Roby (Preston).

Kick-off: Sunday, 3.30pm.

Chris Chester

Wakefield Trinity: A top-four finish would be ‘massive’ – Chester