Wakefield Wildcats hoping to pick from strength

Paul McShane in match action.
Paul McShane in match action.
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THE MAJORITY of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ injured players are likely to be available for the season-opening trip to Salford Red Devils in 12 days’ time.

But coach Richard Agar – who was today taking his squad to north Wales for a three-day training camp – fears Wildcats’ overseas recruits may not arrive in time.

Imports Matt Ryan, Scott Anderson and Pita Godinet have been waiting for visa clearance since before Christmas and have missed all Wildcats’ pre-season fixtures.

Dean Collis, Lee Smith, Paul McShane, Taulima Tautai, Chris Annakin and on-loan Jimmy Keinhorst were also not included in the side which beat Hunslet Hawks 40-20 two days ago.

Agar said: “Chris Annakin (knee) is a definite no, he is out for three months.

“Everyone else who didn’t play on Sunday, it was either because they are not here in the country or it was a precaution with knocks they picked up in the last game or in training.

“We haven’t got anything major and most of the guys you would envisage starting in round one came through Sunday unscathed.”

Agar said McShane was not risked to avoid the chance of him picking up an injury before the start of the season.

“He was fit to play,” he said. “He had a knock after the Featherstone game and he would not have been fit to play last week, if that game had gone ahead.

“We are still waiting for some pivots to come from overseas and we felt having had that injury he’d be better with a week’s rest and a week’s training under him, rather than risk having no pivots for round one.”

Lee Smith had been expected to feature at South Leeds Stadium, but was ruled out due to illness and Keinhorst, on loan from Leeds Rhinos, had a slight hamstring problem.

Wildcats led 28-0 at the break against Hunslet, but were outscored 20-12 in the second period.

Agar pointed to the fact Hawks’ points came after he replaced his most experienced players.

“It was valuable practice for us,” he said. “It was a useful workout and I thought our young kids did okay.

“I am not looking too deeply into it other than we got some valuable game time and some improvements in our attitude and shape and defensively for the most part we aimed up.

“I am not too concerned about conceding three late tries with 12 men and an academy team on the field.”

Meanwhile, Agar has explained his decision to play much of the second half against Hunslet a man short.

“We go away on camp (today) and the last thing I wanted to do was tip anybody over the edge or leave people off the training park early doors this week,” Agar said..

“We decided to put a cap on game time on certain players and try and withdraw them after 45-50 minutes, which is what we did. Ben Shulver tore his pec’, which is real tough luck for him only two minutes into his performance.

“Jordan Crowther got some sore ribs and Luke Briscoe finished with a bit of a sternum injury, so we decided it would be a different challenge for our guys to finish with 12 men.

“We had already gone down to 12 with Ali Lauitiiti off (in the sin-bin) so we played the bulk of the second half with 12 men. That happens in a game sometimes, so it is nice to be in a position where you can practice it and it doesn’t hurt you too much.”

Kallum Watkins in action against Castleford in pre-season.

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