OLD-BOY Ben Cockayne has been pinpointed as a major threat to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ hopes of bringing two points home from Hull KR tomorrow.
Cockayne revived his career during two seasons at Wakefield – in 2012 and 2013 – after an initial stint in East Yorkshire was ended for disciplinary reasons.
He rejoined Rovers at the end of last term, when Wildcats were forced to shed players due to their latest financial crisis, but Wakefield boss Richard Agar insisted there are no hard feelings.
Rovers notched up their first victory in First Utility Super League with a 16-0 home triumph over Bradford Bulls last week and Agar said: “Benny Cockayne’s performance was outstanding at full-back .
“I suppose there’s a question whether they leave him there, where he was highly effective, or revert to what they have done all year and play Greg Eden there.
“I think Benny played with a lot of energy last week, he supported the ball really well and I thought he carried the ball back in a really dynamic way.
“He was a popular player here, popular among the players and very popular on the terraces too. We are finding other guys now to take his spot, but he left on the very best of terms with everyone. He will always look to get his best performance out, no matter who he is playing against. He is just that type of character.”
With Wildcats having picked up just one more point than Rovers, tomorrow’s game is a key one for both teams. But Agar insisted: “They are all big games for us. Looking down the fixture list I can’t see a moment when we haven’t got a big game or a tough game coming up.
“It’s the same this week. We thought we had a good 40 minute performance last weekend (in a 24-16 loss to St Helens) and a not so good second 40. I still think we are in the stage where we are finding our best combinations, what plays work for us and how we are going to play against different style of defences. We are still very much on a learning curve and it is a big challenge this week. It is always a difficult place to go, with a very vociferous crowd.
“It makes for as hostile an atmosphere as you can face in any away game. There’s also the dimensions of the field – with very big in-goal areas – and there’s some different factors you have to take into consideration when you go to Hull KR.” Agar reckons Rovers have been playing better than their record of five defeats suggests.
“They have had a tough start,” he said. “I think they’ve played really well in a couple of their defeats and could probably consider themselves unlucky.
“Perhaps that same level of performance against other teams would have got them a win. I think they will have been happy to get off the mark and they have got some good players in there. It is a tough challenge, but we know what’s in front of us.”
Wildcats are without centre Jimmy Keinhorst, who returned from a hamstring injury last week, but suffered a recurrence of the problem early in the first half. But Dean Collis is available after a quad strain to return in the centres and Danny Washbrook also comes into contention after injury, while Paul Sykes, dropped last week, is vying for a recall.
Rovers are missing ex-Wakefield prop Justin Poore, who begins a three-match ban. Jamie Langley is also out from last week’s team, with Greg Eden, Rhys Lovegrove, Jason Netherton and Aaron Ollrett all hoping to come in.
Hull KR from: Burns, Carlile, Caro, Cockayne, Costigan, Cox, Eden, Gardner, Green, J Hodgson, Keating, Larroyer, Lovegrove, Netherton, Ollett, Salter, A Walker, Welham, Weyman.
Wakefield from: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Riley, Sammut, Godinet, Anderson, McShane, Scruton, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Tautai, Raleigh, Ryan, Smith, Siejka, Sykes, Washbrook.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.