Wakefield Trinity v Castleford Tigers: Why Mason Lino’s been playing with a smile on his face

SAMOAN HALF-BACK Mason Lino is enjoying his rugby and reckons that is the key factor behind his impressive form Wakefield Trinity this season.

By Peter SMith
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 5:55 am

Lino will be a pivotal figure tonight when Trinity bid to end a 16-game losing run in meetings with neighbours Castleford Tigers.

The 28-year-old joined Trinity ahead of the 2021 season, following spells in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights.

He scored six tries, 76 goals and a drop goal in 24 appearances last year, but accepts it took him a while to get to grips with a new style of game.

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Wakefield Trinity half-back Mason Lino touches down in the Super League victory at Warrington Wolves. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

But now, he is playing with a smile on his face, Lino feels that is bringing out his best rugby.

He recalled: “It took me a good part of the year last year, to be honest, until I started finding my feet a bit at the back end, but I am enjoying it now, which is all that matters.

“It is always good when you’re winning, too. I have adjusted to the style of play over here, I guess and I am enjoying playing with the people in my team, so I am pretty happy.”

Trinity are sixth in Betfred Super League going into tonight’s home game, two points and four places above Tigers.

Wakefield's Mason Lino goes on the attack against Salford. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The top six at the end of the year will qualify for the play-offs and that is a realistic aim, according to Lino.

“We hope so,” he said. “We can only be optimistic about it, but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves.

“There’s quality teams everywhere so we have got to make sure we take it week by week and continue to improve.

“We have still got a long way to go and we haven’t really reached our full potential, I think. It will take time and hard work.”

Trinity are on a four-day turnaround from last Sunday’s Betfred Challenge Cup defeat by Wigan Warriors, which is shorter than any other club’s leading into the Easter period.

Tigers have had an extra two days’ rest, but Lino insisted: “We’ve got good strength and conditioning people who are going to keep us in top nick. It is going to be a big challenge for us, but I think, more than anything, we are very excited.

“You definitely feel the emotions of these games, the build up will be big and it should be a good game.

“We’ve spoken about it at training, it is one of those ones you mark on your calendar when the draw comes out.

“Cas are a tough team and we haven’t beaten them for a few years, so hopefully we can get over them this week.”

Though the defeat by Wigan ended a four-game winning run, an outstanding first-half performance, before their under-strength team ran out of steam, will send Wakefield into tonight in confident mood.

But Lino, who kicked two 40-20s in the opening period last Sunday, admitted they need to be sharper straight after half-time.

He said: “When you give teams like Wigan so much space, you pay for it.

“The first 40 minutes were good, but we didn’t start the second half too well and put ourselves in a bit of a hole.”

James Batchelor (calf injury) drops out for the Trinity team which lost to Wigan, but Tom Johnstone and David Fifita are in contention for a recall, along with Yusuf Aydin, Brad Walker and Sadiq Adebiyi.

Wakefield Trinity: from Jowitt, Johnstone, Lyne, Lino, Battye, Hood, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Pitts, Crowther, Whitbread, Gaskell, Kay, Walker, Aydin, Adebiyi, Bowes, Murphy, C Hall, Fifita.

Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Mamo, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Edwards, Milner, Westerman, Massey, Griffin, Fonua, Hepi, Clare, Sutcliffe, Smith, Eden, Matagi, S Hall, O’Brien, Sadler.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).

Kick-off: Today, 7.45pm.