TOMORROW’S FOUR-POINTER at Bradford Bulls is not a relegation-decider, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach Richard Agar insists.
With two teams to drop out of First Utility Super League this year, Wildcats are third from bottom in the table – eight points clear of Bradford and London Broncos, who they play in their next game after tomorrow.
Bradford are expected to learn next week if an appeal against a six-point deduction for entering administration has been successful, but even if they do get all or some of the points back, a Wakefield victory will go a long way to keeping Wildcats in the top-flight.
That makes this weekend’s game arguably the most important played in the competition this year, but Agar stressed he does not regard it as make or break.
“I don’t see it as a survival Sunday, which most other people seem to think it is going to be,” the Wakefield boss said.
“There’s lots and lots of football left to play. If we win the game it obviously puts us in a very, very healthy spot.
“There’s a bit of talk coming out of Bradford that it’s do or die and it’s must win for them and the season over if not.
“We don’t feel we are in that position. If we don’t win we don’t feel it’s terminal asnd we don’t think there’s no way back. We still feel there’s enough in it left for us to keep that distance between the teams at the bottom.
“At the same time, everybody’s talking about us and Bradford, but there’s a couple of teams above us that aren’t winning too many games and are only sat within one win of us.
“Twelve rounds out from the end, for me it’s too early to start comparing it with a £1m relegation game, because quite simply, it’s not.”
Agar added: “If we win, great – it puts us in a healthy position. If anybody said to us we could have our Super League security not guaranteed, but pretty much rubber stamped with something like 10 rounds to go, I think if you go back to November or December we would have snapped their hand off.
“I also think if they said with 10 rounds to go there’d be six points in it, we would also have taken that, given the difficult situation we were in. We know the importance of the game and what it can do for us, but at the same time we don’t think our season is over if we don’t win.
“But the next two weeks are vital for us and we can put a lot of distance between ourselves and the bottom two teams.” On-loan Castleford Tigers centre/back-rower Lee Gilmour will make his Wildcats debut tomorrow, away to one of his former clubs.
Another loan player, Chris Riley, is set to return after being rested against his parent club Warrington last week.
Daniel Smith, who played on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers six days ago, is in contention, along with Paul McShane after he was dropped for the Warrington match. Jacob Fairbank misses out due to the broken ankle he suffered last week and Chris Annakin begins a five-match ban.
Bulls are boosted by the return of Matty Blythe, Matt Diskin, Jamal Fakir, Chev Walker and ex-Wakefield pair Dale Ferguson and Luke George. The players to drop out are Joe Arundel, Adam O’Brien, Nathan Conroy and Jordan Baldwinson.
Bradford Bulls from: Gaskell, Kear, George, Purtell, Foster, Addy, Gale, Sidlow, Diskin, Kaufusi, Olbison, Pitts, Donaldson, Manuokafoa, Henry, Blythe, Fakir, Ferguson, Walker.
Wakefield from: Sammut, Mathers, Ryan, Walshaw, Owen, Sykes, Siejka, Anderson, Wildie, Scruton, Washbrook, Kirmond, Smith, Godinet, Moore, Molloy, Riley, Gilmour, McShane
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.