TEAM SPIRIT was what attracted Matty Ashurst to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, the new recruit says.
Ashurst is in his second week of training with Wildcats after signing a two-year contract in August.
The former Salford Red Devils second-row did his research before putting pen to paper and is confident he will be playing with a smile on his face next term.
“I knew a couple of the boys at Wakefield,” Ashurst said. “I played with Tim Smith at Salford and I know Paul McShane from England academy.
“I heard a lot of good things coming out of there about the group of players they’ve got and the team spirit. They all play for each other and they seem to enjoy their rugby and that’s something I wanted to be part of.”
Smith was a particular influence, according to his former Red Devils teammate. The Australian half-back left Wakefield to join Salford in September, 2013, but failed to settle and lasted less than a year before returning to Wildcats on loan and then signing a one-season contract
“I spoke a lot to Timmy, because I am pretty good mates with him,” Ashurst said. “He confirmed what I could see from the outside. Everyone gets on well and they enjoy what they are doing. That’s what I want, to enjoy my rugby. I enjoyed it at Salford, but that is the main thing you look for if you are going to move. You have got to enjoy it to play your best.”
Wigan-born Ashurst made his debut for St Helens in 2009 and joined Salford three years later.
Of his first weeks as a Wildcats player, he said: “It has been good.
“It’s good to get the first week down. It is always tough coming back, but the boys have been very good with me, very welcoming and I am enjoying it.
“I am getting used to the travelling and I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
Ashurst will be part of a powerful Wildcats pack, which was boosted last week by the addition of Ian Kirke from Leeds Rhinos. French international prop Mickael Simon has also been drated in, from Catalan Dragons, as coach James Webster looks to toughen his team up front.
“It is looking pretty strong and hopefully we can do a good job when it comes to the season,” said the 25-year-old.
“I play in the forwards, but I like to try and play a bit and hopefully I can bring that and add another dimension to them.
“They like to play good rugby and that suits me. I hope I can fit into it.”
Webster believes Ashurst is capable of competiting for international honours, but the player insisted: “I am hoping to add to what they have got already and just be consistent. As long as I am playing consistently and doing my best for the team and contributing, I am happy.”
Wildcats finished third from bottom, one place above relegation, this year, but Ashurst feels they are capable of a top-eight push in 2015. The new league structure will see the top-eight after 23 rounds go into a revamped play-offs system, with the remaining four battling against the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading quartet for places in the following season’s Super League.
“The top-eight has got to be a goal for everyone in the league and we are no different,” Ashurst said. “We will take each game as it comes and try and do our best in every one, but ultimately that has to be the aim.”
Wakefield’s Super League trip to Hull has been aswitched from Friday, July 3 to Sunday July 5 (3pm).