NEW BOSS Brian Smith is pleased with how Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ squad have shaped up during his first week in charge – and admits he has been pushing them hard.
Smith took over on Monday with Wildcats seven-points behind second-bottom Salford Red Devils on the First Utility Super League table.
Wildcats will be looking to end a run of 14 successive league defeats when Salford visit Belle Vue tomorrow and so far, Smith feels the signs are positive.
“I’m really pleased with attitudes, the guys have responded really well,” Smith said.
“They should as well, they should be looking for something to spark them.
“They’ve got responsibilities. James Webster [Wildcats’ previous coach] has paid a heavy price, as all coaches do when they get moved on, but players have got to face up to their bit of the bargain as well.
“Their response to me has been excellent in that regard. The next bit is where it matters, out there.”
Winning the collision is one of Smith’s first objectives for a team that has conceded more than 50 points six times this year.
“I know these lads can train at a higher level than the one they’re at currently,” he said.
“We’ll do it slowly although we did have one session that did rattle their cages a little bit.
“There was a bit more contact and intensity than they would normally have at this time of year.
“We need to improve that aspect of our game, the collision in the sport today is a massive determinate on whether you win or lose and we lost way too many of them against Leeds [a 58-26 loss last Sunday], so we’ve got to set about trying to fix it.
“We definitely want an effect. Whether the effects create wins is ultimately what we all get judged on.
“For me winning is always the goal, but it’s also about performance.”
Lopini Paea left Wildcats last month and Dean Collis returned to Australia earlier this week.
Jarrod Sammut is also expected to move on, but Smith said he does not expect any more departures.
“Unless someone wants to go, they’re here to stay, certainly for my five months,” he pledged.
“I made a commitment to work with the guys that are here and I’m happy to do that, staff and players.
“They should be jumping out of their skins, not about me, but about anybody coming in.
“It gives everybody in the place a fresh start.
“Everybody’s a chance while I’m here.”
Richard Owen and Craig Hall were both hurt in last week’s defeat by Leeds and will miss tomorrow’s game.
But former Leeds forward Ian Kirke is set to return from a broken thumb and Jacob Miller and Jon Molloy are set for a recall, along with youngster Max Jowitt. Salford boss Iestyn Harris will select from the players beaten at St Helens last week, plus Josh Griffin and Lama Tasi.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Annakin, Arundel, Godinet, Howarth, Johnstone, Jowitt, Kavanagh, Kirke, Kirmond, McShane, Miller, Molloy, Riley, Ryan, Scruton, Simon, D Smith, T Smith, Washbrook.
Salford Red Devils: from Evalds, Johnson, Sa’u, Caton-Brown, Jones-Bishop, Chase, Fages, Morley, Hood, Taylor, Paterson, Hauraki, G Griffin, Hansen, D Griffin, Walne, Tomkins, J Griffin, Tasi.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: 3pm tomorrow.