Despite making his debut as recently as August, 2010, Matty Wildie is already Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ longest-serving player.
Now the 23-year-old, with only 31 first team appearances under his belt, is looking to make this the year he kicks on and becomes a first team regular.
The upheaval over the off-season, which led to the departure of the core of last year’s squad, has left Wildcats low on experience going into 2014 and Wildie is keen to fill the gap.
The half-back/hooker knows he has a golden opportunity to prove his Super League class and he admitted: “I want to be playing consistently well and having my name on the team sheet every week.
“Hopefully in the friendlies I can prove that I can play week in and week out in Super League and I can have a good year.”
Playing at scrum-half, Wildie was one of Wakefield’s most impressive performers in the 18-18 draw at Leeds Rhinos six days ago.
That result was a morale-booster for Wildcats after a difficult few months and Wildie observed: “I think we went all right in the first half.
“In the second half we were a bit rusty and our execution was a bit poor in areas.
“But I thought it was a good hit out for the lads and there were some good performances.
“We can take confidence from getting a draw at Leeds. It was a good effort by the lads and we will be stronger for it.
“Leeds are full of good players and they gave us a good test, but we’ve got some young lads and they are good players as well.
“There are still areas we need to work on, but we will do that in the new year and come good for the start of the season.
“Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will be sorted when that comes along.”
Ex-Leeds duo Paul McShane and Richard Moore made their debut in the Christmas game, along with Rhinos academy product Daniel Smith, who was signed from South Sydney under-20s.
Imports Scott Anderson, Matt Ryan and Pita Godinet could feature in Wildcats’ second pre-season game, away to Featherstone Rovers on January 12.
Wildie feels Wildcats’ prospects for this year are looking a lot brighter than they were just a few weeks ago, when it seemed like being a struggle just to field a competitive team.
“We’ve still got a few lads to come in,” he said.
“The Aussies are due to arrive in January and they can only make us stronger.
“We’re looking forward to getting them on board and giving them a run in the other friendlies.
“The people [new signings] we’ve already got are going really well I think we can give it a really good go this season.
“Hopefully we can piece together a good side and I am sure we’ll be ready for the start.
“We’re not worried about what people say about us, we’re just going to keep competing week in, week out and we’ll take it as it comes.”
Wildcats coach Richard Agar is hoping to take his squad away for a British-based training camp after the trial game at Big Fellas Stadium. Wakefield conclude their pre-season programme on Sunday, January 26, when Huddersfield Giants are the visitors in Andy Raleigh’s benefit game.
Agar’s side begin their Super League campaign on February 16, at Salford Red Devils.
Featherstone Rovers are selling hospitality packages for the clash with Wakefield – including admission and a two-course lunch – for £30 per adult. Tickets can be booked by contacting Paul Taylor on 01977 702386 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org