PASS MASTER Tim Smith is tipping Wakefield Trinity Wildcats to upset the odds this year.
A controversial new format will see First Utility Super League’s top-eight clubs after 23 rounds go into a new Super-8s competition leading to play-offs for a place in the Grand Final, while the bottom-four will battle for survival in the Qualifiers against the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading quartet.
After finishing 12th last year, Wakefield have the most work to do if they are to avoid the ‘middle-eights’ lottery, but Smith is unconcerned by the pundits’ predictions of doom.
“A few people are doubting us,” the Aussie No 7 conceded. “But it doesn’t matter what they say – it is what we think that counts and we think if we can play to the best of our ability and stick to a few things we’ve put in place, anything can happen.”
Smith added: “We’ve bought some really exciting players and that adds to the squad. All our younger players are a year on and I think we are in a good spot moving forward. Now it’s time to get out there and put it on the field.”
Wildcats had a poor pre-season last year, with their squad not being completed until after the campaign began. Things have run much more smoothly this time and Smith feels that has given them a solid base to build on.
“When all your players are there it helps,” he said. “It has been a tough pre-season, but a good one. We’ve now got two weeks to tweak things to get ready for Cas and things are looking good.”
That first game, away to Castleford Tigers on Sunday, February 8, will be vital as all 12 top-flight teams jostle to get off to a flying start.
“If you look at the first month of the season, you really want to start well,” Smith said. “We want to go out and give it a really good shake-up at the start and try and get a few wins on the board. I’m sure every team in Super League will be the same. The local derby first up is going to be a cracker.”
Smith originally joined Wakefield ahead of the 2012 campaign. He moved to Salford Red Devils at the end of the following year, but failed to settle and was back at Belle Vue to play 12 times late last term.
“I came here mid-season last year and I enjoyed my rugby,” he said. “I’ve had another pre-season with the boys and we’ve put a few things in place.
“Now I am just looking forward to the season starting and getting out there. Everyone asks me why I like it at Wakefield so much and I think it’s because it is a great bunch of boys here and the style – the way James [Webster] likes to coach suits the way I play. It just fits me well here.”