Agar plotting smart moves to tackle stand-off shortfall

Wakefield Wildcats' Danny Washbrook
Wakefield Wildcats' Danny Washbrook
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TOMORROW’S CRUCIAL shoot-out with Bradford Bulls could see Wakefield Trinity Wildcats try a different option at stand-off.

Wildcats’ No 6 Paul Sykes suffered a broken leg in last month’s home win over Widnes Vikings, which will keep him sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

Simon Grix can't prevent Paul Sykes from getting over for a Wakefield try

Simon Grix can't prevent Paul Sykes from getting over for a Wakefield try

Centre Lee Smith filled in at stand-off three times earlier in the season and Danny Washbrook, normally a back-row forward, played there for the defeats by Leeds Rhinos in Wildcats’ last two games.

But boss Richard Agar confirmed he is considering a change for tomorrow’s home derby.

Agar was unhappy with some of Wildcats’ decision-making at crucial times in the 31-24 loss to Leeds eight days ago.

And he said: “We don’t want to make excuses, but we have not got a massive squad and losing Paul – on top of having to release Kyle Wood – has left us with fewer options than we had earlier in the season.

“It is bound to have an effect, losing an influential player like Paul Sykes and we may go a different way in that position this weekend.

“That is no disrespect to the job Washy has done.

“Defensively he did a good job against Leeds, but we feel me might need a bit more speed and threat in there this week.”

Being smarter is the key to Wildcats’ hopes of getting the points tomorrow, their coach says.

“Nobody will deny that our effort over the last two games has been outstanding,” he reflected.

“Our defence has been very good, but we’re just not getting enough quality field position at the moment. We are probably not kicking the ball smart enough and we came up with some crucial, crucial decisions and wrong plays at the wrong times.”

Wildcats are locked in a three-way tussle with Hull – who began round 23 a point ahead in eighth spot – and Bulls for the final play-offs place.

Bradford – whose players were told this week that wages are being delayed as a “temporary” measure – are just one point behind.

Agar accepts tomorrow’s clash could prove a pivotal fixture.

“It is a big game, for both teams’ ambitions of pushing into the eight,” he said.

“Bradford have had a couple of good performances of late and they are just a point behind us.

“We didn’t get any points against Leeds, but we know a win keeps us right there in the mix.

“There’s five games left and it’s like a penalty shootout now.”

Wakefield chairman Michael Carter clears the lines before his side's abandoned match with Widnes. Picture: Peter Smith.

Wakefield game called off due to blizzard conditions