WOUNDED Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will be starting again when they play host to Hull KR this afternoon.
Wildcats got a rude awakening six days ago when they slumped 40-6 at Bradford Bulls in Super League round one.
Coach Richard Agar described that as “the most disappointing performance since I’ve been in charge”, but insisted all that matters now is putting things right.
Wildcats won their last seven regular-season games in 2012 to snatch the eighth and final play-offs spot and Agar said: “Last year has gone, but so has last week.
“We are looking forward. Every team will encounter a performance like that, or probably more than one, during a year.
“Unfortunately ours came in round one. The important thing now is to show the right level of performance and response.”
Agar is confident he has identified what went wrong six days ago.
“The quality of our defensive work and our lack of physicality in contact rendered the rest of our game irrelevant,” he said.
“We couldn’t get going in attack. We didn’t win enough tackles and we didn’t get to grips with them around the ruck and that’s what made it such a one-sided game.
“Our defence is an area we strove to improve last year and it took a while. We are going to have to work very hard in that area, but I know the players recognise that fact and they are committed to doing something about it.
“I am not expecting it to be pitch perfect, but we will see some improvements this week. If we don’t, then we are not going to go too far forward.”
Hull KR are in a similar situation, after slipping up 32-24 at home to Catalan Dragons in their opening game.
Agar said: “One of Hull KR’s great strengths is some of their ball carries and their physicality up front.
“That lays the platform for a very smart half-back in Michael Dobson, who has the ability to create with his hands and feet.
“They will be a big challenge for us, but we want to make sure we get our own game right first. If our control of the ruck is like it was last week, it won’t matter who we are playing.”
Wakefield’s on-loan Leeds Rhinos prop Brad Singleton has been dropped for this afternoon’s game and is replaced in the initial 19 by Andy Raleigh, who has recovered from damaged ribs.
Matty Wildie is also out and his place in the halves could be taken by Tim Smith, who missed last week due to a leg injury.
Vince Mellars is also back in contention after injury and Chris Annakin, who was 18th man last week, retains his place in the squad.
Agar said Raleigh’s likely return will give Wildcats’ under-fire pack a lift.
“Obviously he had about a month of his pre-season disrupted with one or two little niggles, which has been a pain for us and for him,” he said.
“He is our player of the year and he is very, very consistent in the middle of the field.
“That will help us out because it was an area we were poor – or non-existent – in last week.”
Hull KR could give a debut to ex-Wakefield forward Dale Ferguson, who has joined them on loan from Huddersfield Giants.
Rhys Lovegrove drops out, but Greg Eden and Sam Latus are in contention.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Mathers, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne, Sykes, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Amor, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wood, Wilkes, Mariano, Raleigh, Mellars, Annakin.
Hull KR: from Hall, Caro, Salter, Horne, D Hodgson, Withers, Dobson, Paea, J Hodgson, Walker, Mika, Paterson, Griffin, Carlile, Cox, Tuimavave, Eden, Latus, Ferguson.
Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens).
KICK-OFF: Feb 9, 5.45pm.