WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS’ players have been told to commit themselves to the cause, or leave.
Wildcats chairman Michael Carter issued an ultimatum to the first team squad following James Webster’s departure yesterday, after less than a year as coach.
Wildcats have lost their last 11 First Utility Super League matches and are seven points adrift at the foot of the table.
Webster’s exit came just two days after they were beaten 36-30 at home by Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh Centurions in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, a game they led 24-6 at half-time.
Carter admitted he places the blame for Wildcats’ struggles firmly at the players’ door.
“I have had a really sad 48 hours,” he said. “James is a really good bloke and doesn’t really deserve what’s happened to him.
“That responsibility, for me, lies with the players. Last time I looked, I’ve not seen him miss a tackle or drop a ball, but I think a change had to be made for the future of the club and it is easier to change one coach than it is to change 25 players.”
Webster – who was appointed last June – questioned his players’ commitment after the Leigh defeat.
And Carter admitted: “We need to get back to a philosophy here of us all being in this together.
“I have told the players if any of them want to get out, come and see me and we’ll sort something out. I don’t want anybody on board who doesn’t want to be here.”
Super League’s bottom-four after 23 rounds will go into a new competition against the Championship’s leading quartet to battle for places in the top-flight next year.
And Carter said the way Wakefield played in the first half of the Cup tie against Leigh has convinced him they can hang on to their place in the elite division.
“For 45-50 minutes we were pretty good,” Carter said. “But that’s been our problem all year. When we hang on to the ball we look okay, but without it we look dreadful.
“If we get them to play the way we want to play, I honestly think we have every chance of surviving in Super League, which is the aim at the moment.”
Under-19s coach Stuart Dickens has been placed in caretaker charge ahead of Sunday’s visit of Widnes Vikings.
And Carter said there has already been “several expressions of interest” in the coaching vacancy.
In a statement released by the club, Webster said: “I felt now was the right time to allow someone else the opportunity to take the team forward.
“In taking this decision my hope is it will allow the club to fulfil its goal and remain in Super League.
“I would like to thank both Michael and Chris (Brereton, club director) for the opportunity and wish everyone at the Wildcats the best for the future.”