Milestone man Danny Kirmond admits Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have had a shock – and now he wants them to create another.
Kirmond will play his 200th career game when Wildcats take on visitors Leeds Rhinos in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round on Sunday.
Wildcats are on the back of an unexpected 44-6 mauling at Hull KR last weekend, but Kirmond reckons they can bounce back by upsetting Leeds’ Challenge Cup bid.
“We have started the season quite well, considering the big changeover of players we’ve had,” Kirmond said. “We thought we were going in the right direction, so the Hull KR game was a bit of a shock to us as players and to the coaching staff as well.
“It is a great opportunity to bounce back this week after letting each other down last Sunday. We definitely didn’t see it coming. We are a really tight bunch and the first thing we are worried about is ourselves and the standards we set ourselves as players.
“That performance just didn’t reach that level. We are out now to make sure it was just a one-off and we head back in the right direction on the back of that.”
Kirmond is convinced Wildcats are capable of having a run in the Challenge Cup, if they can get past Leeds. He added: “It is an exciting competition and it was great to see so many Super League clubs drawn together in the fourth round.
“If you win your first game, this weekend, it gives you a great chance of getting a good draw in the next round. It is massive for us and to have a run in the Challenge Cup would be good for the club.”
The bookies make Rhinos strong favourites for Sunday’s tie, but Kirmond insisted: “At home I think we are capable of beating any team. Leeds are obviously a really good squad, with some great talent in there, but I believe we’ve got a really good squad as well. We can challenge them.”
Wildcats were given a boost when ex-Leeds hooker Paul McShane was found not guilty of a dangerous tackle in last week’s game, clearing him for the Cup tie and next Friday’s Super League re-match.
“That’s a bonus because he is a really good player and very creative for us out of dummy-half,” Kirmond said. “I think when we lost Paul Aiton last year a lot of people were worried about who we’d get at hooker, but Macca has been a really good replacement and has taken us on to the next level, attacking-wise. We are fortunate he hasn’t got a ban. We had a look at it on review and it didn’t look like there was too much in it. We have got a lot of ex-Leeds players and they will all want to do well.”
Kirmond played 73 games as a winger at Featherstone Rovers before moving to Huddersfield Giants, where he played 55 times. Sunday will be his 72nd game for Wakefield. Of his impending double century, he said: “I never really imagined it would go this far. I was still playing amateur rugby league at 18. I got a chance at Featherstone and I thought it would stay there. To go on and play Super League and make 200 appearances is something I am extremely proud of – and hopefully I can pile a few more on.
“I remember my first game for Rovers, away at Batley. I was stood at the bottom of the hill with Barry Eaton kicking at me – and I thought it’s going to be a difficult career this. Then the first time I played in the back-row for Huddersfield I realised playing on the wing wasn’t really like playing rugby league!”