Wakefield Wildcats: Return-from-injury Sykes eyes Super League opener

Paul Sykes.
Paul Sykes.
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LONG-TERM CASUALTY Paul Sykes is confident he will be good to go when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats kick off their Super League campaign next month.

Sykes hasn’t played a competitive game since suffering a broken leg in a Super League clash with Widnes Vikings last July.

But he has featured in both Wildcats’ warm-up games so far – at Leeds Rhinos and Featherstone Rovers – and is set to continue his comeback against visitors Huddersfield Giants in Andy Raleigh’s testimonial game on Sunday.

“It has been good to get a couple of games under my belt,” Sykes said.

“Personally it is good to get back after I had about six months off.

“The leg is pretty good. On Boxing Day I felt great, the pitch was a bit heavier at Featherstone – I felt a bit heavy-legged – but the team performance wasn’t good enough.

“There is a lot to work on and a few lads to come in as well. Hopefully we will get enough time together and we can put things right.

“We were pretty poor (against Rovers) and we shipped a lot of points in the first few minutes. It is hard to get back into the game after that, especially in tough conditions.”

The first try in Rovers’ 24-8 victory came after seven seconds and is believed to be the quickest in the sport’s history.

The hosts followed that up to lead 16-0 after nine and Sykes said a better start is something they’ll be working on ahead of Sunday’s game.

“We were on top for the remainder of the first half, but we finished our sets poorly and we couldn’t get on the front foot,” he admitted.

Wildcats had been due to visit north Wales last week for a pre-season camp, but that was cancelled because signings Pita Godinet, Scott Anderson and Matt Ryan have yet to arrive.

Sykes feels more time together would be beneficial, but insisted Wakefield’s players can’t use lack of familiarity as an excuse for poor performances.

“We’ve been together since the start of November,” he pointed out. “It’s just the new guys who are still to come in. We will be all right and we’ll be ready for the start of the season.

“If we listen to Rich (head coach Richard Agar) and what he tells us to do we will get things right.”

It has been a tough few months for Wildcats – who travel to Salford Red Devils for their opening First Utility Super League fixture on February 16 – since news broke of the club’s latest financial crisis.

A host of key players departed as the club slashed its wage bill and visa delays have left the new overseas contingent kicking their heels in Australia.

But it was a similar situation in 2012 and Wildcats overcame the odds to storm into the Super League play-offs by winning their final seven games.

Sykes insisted: “We will be competitive. We did it a couple of years ago and we can do it again.

“We have got a younger squad with a few experienced players coming in and we can find a good mix again.

“There’s some really good talent coming through at Wakefield. The young boys have stepped up well this year in pre-season.

“It is their first full pre-season and they are ones to look out for the future.”

Of his own ambitions for 2014, Sykes said: “I just want to get out on the field.

“Hopefully I’ll get picked every week and I can do my best for the club.”

Wakefield try scorer Mason Caton-Brown. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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