PROP Matt James will get an opportunity to prove he can command Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ engine room,
James – an off-season recruit from Barrow Raiders – is set to start in the front-row when Wildcats play host to Castleford Tigers in their penultimate pre-season game on Sunday.
The former Bradford Bulls and Harlequins forward impressed coach Richard Agar in last weekend’s away defeat to Catalan Dragons. And Agar regards Sunday as a big game for the 24-year-old as the jostling for places in Wildcats’ league opener, at Widnes Vikings two weeks today, begins to hot up.
“We are a bit light in the front-row,” said Agar, who will welcome back skipper Steve Southern on Sunday. “Oliver Wilkes is still recovering from his appendix operation, but hopefully we will give him a hit-out at Batley next week.
“Andy Raleigh popped a rib cartilage against Catalan and he’s a bit sore, but I’d expect him to be back for round one. It is a great opportunity for Matt James. He took the eye with some strong runs against Catalan and he is staking a claim for a place.”
Wildcats have injury concerns over full-back Richard Mathers (groin) and forward Paul Johnson, who took a “whack” to the mouth last week, though Agar is hopeful both will play on Sunday.
Agar has named a 19 man squad, but is considering reducing that to 17 and using only 10 interchanges in a bid to adjust to the new substitution rule which will be in force this season.
“We may do that, but we’ll probably get another couple stripped as well just in case,” he said. “If we pick up injuries we don’t want to put anybody under pressure.”
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne, John, Smith, James, Aiton, Southern, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Wood, Ellis, Mariano, Amor, Johnson, Walshaw.