Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Boxing Day offers Ben chance to start again

Salford's Ben Jones-Bishop, inaction for Salford against Wakefield earlier this year.
Salford's Ben Jones-Bishop, inaction for Salford against Wakefield earlier this year.
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TWO-TIME Grand Final winner Ben Jones-Bishop is aiming to recapture his Leeds Rhinos form with new club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

The Leeds-born full-back/winger scored 56 tries in 83 appearances for Rhinos from 2008-2014, but left after dropping down the pecking order when England flier Tom Briscoe was brought in from Hull.

He had a disappointing season with Salford Red Devils this year, despite crossing 16 times in 25 games, but is confident a return to West Yorkshire can revive his fortunes.

“I was coming back from my knee (reconstruction) and I had a few niggles through the year,” Jones-Bishop, 27, said of his spell at Salford.

“I think this year will be better for me.

“Hopefully, I can have an injury-free pre-season and that will carry me into the season.”

Jones-Bishop is set to make his first appearance for Wildcats in Boxing Day’s Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge at Headingley.

The clash between this year’s treble-winners and Super League’s wooden spoonists will give Wakefield boss Brian Smith an indication of how his new-look side are progressing after almost two months of training.

“It will be a good game to play in, especially at Headingley,” Jones-Bishop predicted.

“It’s a good challenge, whatever team they put out is going to have some quality.

“With a lot of new signings, it will be good to play with each other.

“We do things in training, but to actually run through it in a game situation is good and it’s a chance to look at some combinations and see what is working.”

Impressive off-season recruitment has raised expectations, but Jones-Bishop insisted Wildcats must keep their feet on the ground.

“So far, I think a realistic goal is just competing in games,” said the former England Knights star, who was part of Rhinos’ title-winning team in 2011 and 2012.

“Looking at the (last season’s) table, they were quite a way off.

“The bottom-four from last year want to be outside that and in the top-eight, that’s the ultimate goal, but at the moment we just want to be competing week in and week out and being a hard team to beat.”

With Anthony England, Ashley Gibson, Ben Shulver, Sean Morris, Anthony Tupou, Tirinau Arona, Liam Finn and Jason Walton also brought in, Jones-Bishop reckons Wildcats are assembling a squad capable of doing just that, if they can build on the work done in pre-season so far.

“It’s a big squad,” he added.

“There’s 32 or 33 players and just running through things, we have got plenty of options in every department.

“The signings they’ve made back up what Michael [Carter, Wildcats’ chairman] and Brian are looking for, for the future of the club.

“They’ve had a couple of bad years, but Michael has managed to turn it around and he is trying to build for the future.

“Hopefully I can be part of that.”