'He's an asset': Wakefield Trinity boss Mark Applegarth talks Kelepi Tanginoa rumours, previews Tigers derby
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Trinity last week traded highly-rated young centre Corey Hall to Hull KR in exchange for full-back Will Dagger.
There has been speculation Tanginoa, who is close to returning from a hamstring injury, is another player Trinity might be willing to part with, to strengthen other areas in their squad.
But Applegarth stressed: “I can’t wait to get Kelepi back on the field for Wakefield Trinity. He is definitely not a player we are looking to move on.
“I have got an excellent relationship with Kelepi and a fit and healthy Kelepi Tanginoa is one of the best players in Super League, especially in his position.
“I can’t stop the speculation. When you are in a tricky spot such as we are, bottom of the league, people are going to try to start stripping your assets and Kelepi is definitely an asset to Wakefield.
“The plan is for him to be reintegrated into the first team from Monday and what a boost that will be.”
Applegarth pledged he would “never say never” to more wheeling and dealing, but stressed: “We have bodies coming back and if we can keep our main squad on the field for the rest of the season, I'd be quite content.”
Nathan Mason, signed this week on a short-term loan from Huddersfield Giants, could make his Trinity debut in Thursday’s bottom-two derby at Castleford Tigers and Jorge Taufua, Liam Hood, Renouf Antoni, Kevin Proctor and Sam Hewitt are in contention for a return to the 17.
Applegarth said: “It has been a pleasant change for us. We’ve got quite a few bodies back and training’s starting to look like what you’d expect it to be.
“There’s some big names coming back in, that makes it a bit more intense and causes a few selection headaches, which you need.”
The coach added: “Josh Bowden picked up a bit of a freak injury just before the season kicked off and he has trained with us this week.
“He will be back in contention for the Leigh game [on April 16]. Lee Gaskell has been training, albeit non-contact while his pec’ injury settles down.
“He ripped his pec’ clean off the bone, but he has opted not to have surgery and should be back in contention for Leigh.
“It was a pretty gruesome injury and it just shows how tough some of these lads are. You can’t fault them for that.”
Thursday’s hosts Tigers have won just once this year and are one place and two points clear of rock-bottom Trinity.
“Every game is a big one, but this probably has got a bit of added importance,” Applegarth admitted.
“If we win, it gets us level on points with Cas and could be a catalyst to improve our fortunes, but if they win it puts a bit of daylight between them and us.
“We are just focusing on our own performance. I am sick of saying after games ‘I thought the effort was there’. We need to show some composure as well.”
Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Eden, Turner, Fonua, Faraimo, Miller, Lawler, McShane, Griffin, Edwards, Mellor, Westerman, Massey, Broadbent, Vete, Mustapha, D Smith, Matagi, Hookem, Qareqare, Johnson.
Wakefield Trinity: from Taufua, Lyne, Lino, Battye, Hood, Whitbread, Ashurst, Pitts, Crowther, Kay, Atoni, Kershaw, Proctor, M Smith, Langi, Bowes, Eseh, Hewitt, Dagger, Senior, Mason.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes). Kick-off: Thursday, 8pm.