YOUNG PLAYERS and fringe first teamers will be given a chance to stake a claim when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Castleford Tigers wrap up their pre-season campaigns tonight.
Coaches Brian Smith and Daryl Powell have both named mainly under-19s squads, but include several senior players.
Former Test forward Anthony Tupou is the star name in Wildcats’ side to face Australian touring team Newcastle Yowies at Belle Vue – and Smith revealed the new signing is playing by special request.
“His brother Ben plays for them,” Smith said. “He asked me to let him play!”
Tonight’s game will give some of Wildcats’ under-19s a run-out, alongside first-team players including Tupou, Craig Hall, Jordan Tansey, Jason Walton and Andy Yates.
The Wakefield side features winger Judah Mazive, who has been called into this year’s England academy squad.
Meanwhile, Tigers will complete an unbeaten pre-season if they beat Bradford Bulls at Odsal tonight – and Powell is delighted with the way his team’s preparations have gone so far this winter.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Powell stressed.
“There’s a lot of hard work to be done, but the signs are promising.
“Pre-season is there to get you ready and, from what I’ve seen so far, we look ready.
“We are really excited about the season and we’ve improved from a defensive perspective, which is one of the key areas we’ve worked on.”
The Wheldon Road club completed a friendlies clean-sweep last weekend with wins over York City Knights and Wakefield.
“That was really pleasing for the club as a whole,” Powell said.
“We had a very young team against York, went 12-0 down and they worked hard to get the game back.
“Then to do what we did against Wakefield on Sunday was really good. It was more the performance than the win [that was pleasing]. It was just a really professional performance all round.”
Powell will again give some under-19s players a chance tonight, with several first-team squad members also included.
“They acquitted themselves well last week and this will be a stiff challenge,” Powell said.
“Bradford are a good side and they fronted up well against Leeds last week.
“It will be a tough game and it’s good to get another game under our belt and for some of the players to show me what they’ve got.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (v Yowies): from Arundel, Batchelor, Brown, Capless, Crowther, Dixon, Flemmng, Gledhill, Hall, Jowitt, Kershaw, Mazive, Megretton, Moules, Morris, Shulver, Tansey, A Tupou, Walker, Walton, Yates.
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.30pm.
Castleford Tigers (at Bradford): from Adamson, Boyle, Cooke, Diskin, Dixon, Douglas, Fitzsimmons, Gill, Hampshire, Hitchcox, T Holmes, Johnson, Maher, Minikin, O’Neill, Robson, Sheehan, Springer, Westerman.
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.