INJURED CAPTAIN Danny Kirmond reckons Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will “have a really good crack” at the Super-8s.
Wildcats will take a weakened squad to Wigan Warriors tonight for a showdown between last weekend’s beaten Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finalists.
Before the season began Wakefield were tipped for another relegation battle in the Qualifiers and a second successive appearance in the million pound match. Instead, the First Utility Super-8s began with Wildcats in eighth place, eight points outside the top-four.
With their initial goal of avoiding relegation already achieved, Kirmond said the pressure is off and they won’t be holding anything back.
“We are safe and we can have a really good crack at it now,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a few bodies back. We’ve patched people up for a few weeks now so it would be nice to get everyone back fit, but we can enjoy it.
“We are safe and we’re not under the pressure we were last year. Also, it is much better for the club. It [being in the Super-8s] makes recruitment easier, which is much better for next year.”
Kirmond played in last Saturday’s 56-12 loss to Warrington Wolves against doctor’s advice and his knee problem will keep him out of tonight’s game.
“I wasn’t really fully fit, but we didn’t have enough players,” he said of the thinking behind his return six days ago. “I put my hand up to play, I didn’t want to miss it.
“I had an infection and when I had a scan it showed I have got a tear in my patella tendon as well, which is quite close to rupturing. I will have a couple more weeks off and hopefully it will heal them. It is difficult at the minute because we are struggling for numbers with a lot of injuries, but it’s just one of those things that happens.
“If you’d said at the start of the season, ‘you’re going to have an injury crisis, when do you want it – do you want it before the league splits into eights or do you want it the week after’? we would take it now, when we are definitely safe and we can move on and enjoy the Super-8s.”
Trinity conceded 10 tries last week, but Kirmond insisted the Cup defeat has not dented their confidence. He stressed: “Everyone was really disappointed and devastated we lost the game and in the manner we did, but I think if you take a step back and have a look, it is something to be really proud of.
“The club hasn’t been in a semi-final of the Challenge Cup for a long time and to get there is something we will look back on and say is a really good achievement.”
With Kirmond and Ben Jones-Bishop (shoulder) both ruled out, Wildcats will give a debut to at least one academy product tonight. Judah Mazive, Frazer Morris and Liam Senior are all included in the initial 19 and Bill Tupou could return after injury.
Josh Charnley and Frank-Paul Nuuausala are back in contention for Wigan following suspension and Jake Shorrocks is also vying for a call-up. Joe Bretherton drops out from their semi-final team.
Wigan Warriors: from Bateman, Charnley, Crosby, Flower, Gildart, Isa, Manfredi, Mossop, Nuuausala, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Shorrocks, Smith, Sutton, Tautai, Tierney, S Tomkins, Williams.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Arona, Arundel, Crowther, Fifita, Finn, Hall, Jowitt, Lyne, Mazive, Miller, Moore, Morris, Scruton, Senior, Sio, A Tupou, B Tupou, Walton, Yates.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.