After the re-signing of Andy Raleigh, cats coach Richard Agar is working hard behind the scenes to seal more deals. Peter Smith reports.
MORE KEY players could follow prop Andy Raleigh in signing a new deal to keep them at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Raleigh, 32, penned a one-year contract extension this week and will remain a Wakefield player until at least the end of next season.
And boss Richard Agar revealed talks are on-going with other leading members of his squad as he looks to keep together the side which finished eighth in Super League last year.
Agar said Wildcats are keen to re-sign players whose current contract ends in a year’s time, as well as those due out of contract at the end of this season.
“I’d like to think this is the first of a few announcements,” Agar confirmed. “It’s that time of the year.
“We are busy beavering away behind the scenes and one thing I am keen to do is try and keep together the core of our squad that made such good headway last year and we feel can move us forward.
“That’s looking at the players who are coming out of contract and also the ones who have got a year left and looking at tying them up for a bit longer.”
Explaining the decision to extend Raleigh’s contract, Agar said: “Andy was player of the year last year and he did a terrific job for us.
“This year he has had one or two injuries and a bit of a slower start, but we feel he’s gradually getting back to his best. He brings an awful lot of experience and consistency to our group and we feel he has had a terrific impact since he has been here.
“We are confident he’s got plenty of good football left in his tank yet. He looks after himself extremely well and we feel he’s really getting back to his consistent best.”
Wildcats return to Super League action – following last weekend’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup exit – away to Hull KR tomorrow.
Rovers – one of Raleigh’s former clubs – are among the most inconsistent sides in the competition, with six wins and eight defeats from their 14 games so far.
Wildcats are looking to complete their first league double of the year, after beating them 36-20 at Rapid Solicitors Stadium in February.
But Agar warned: “They have had some good wins at home.
“They’ve knocked off St Helens twice and Warrington at home over the last six or seven weeks.
“They have probably also had some what they would consider disappointing performances and defeats.
“They have not had much consistency to their line-up, they’ve had some injuries and changes in the halves and to the edges. That won’t have done them a world of good in terms of consistency and continuity, but we know Craven Park is a difficult place to go.
“They have got a terrific crowd in there that like to make the opposition feel as uncomfortable as possible.
“It will be a big challenge. They got beaten last week and I’ve noticed if they have a tough one or a disappointing defeat then they generally try and show a response and bounce back pretty well.
“We know the challenge, they are sitting one spot above us in the competition and in the short term there’s a bit of significance in that the team that gets the spoils in this one will be getting a bit closer to the eight.”
Pressure has been mounting on Rovers coach Craig Sandercock following recent heavy defeats, but Agar said that will only make tomorrow’s hosts more dangerous.
“I think Craig will be thinking the best way to answer the questions is through his team and his team’s performances,” he said. “If that continues throughout the season and results take care of themselves, that might take care of Craig’s own position.
“But that plays no part in our build up whatsoever. We are trying to maintain some good league form we’ve had over a couple of weeks and win what we think is an important league game in terms of the standings in the competition.”
Meanwhile, Raleigh admits Wildcats are still hurting from last week’s Challenge Cup defeat at Hull, but says that adds extra motivation to do well in the league.
“It just gives us a bit more time and opportunity to focus on the league and make sure we get up into the top-eight,” he stressed.
Raleigh feels there are similarities between tomorrow’s opponents Rovers and the way Wildcats have gone this season.
He said: “The fact they have beaten sides like St Helens and Warrington at home and lost against sides you wouldn’t expect them to lose against is not dissimilar to how we’ve played.
“We’ve had a bit of an up and down season and they are the same. We’ve got that in mind, the fact they are able to beat top sides at home and put in good performances there.
“We need to be on our mettle on Sunday when we go there.”