CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Danny Kirmond has admitted there were times he thought he might not be a Wakefield Trinity Wildcats player in 2014.
A financial crisis last autumn sparked an exodus of Wildcats’ top stars and Kirmond was wanted by a host of rival clubs, including big-spending Salford Red Devils.
But while the likes of Tim Smith, Kyle Amor, Ben Cockayne and Paul Aiton have moved on, Kirmond remains at the heart of the Wildcats team and will lead them out for their First Utility Super League opener – ironically away to Salford – on Sunday afternoon.
“In the off-season I wasn’t really too sure what was happening,” Kirmond admitted. “Rich [Agar, Wildcats’ coach] was away with France and I didn’t have too many opportunities to speak to him.
“I was away on holiday as well so it was quite frustrating at times, but as soon as I came back from my holiday I spoke to Michael [Carter, the club chairman] and he made it clear to me the club didn’t want to sell me.
“After that my mind was set that I was still going to be at Wakefield. That’s how I always wanted it really and maybe a couple of the players who left wanted to stay here as well, but it wasn’t to be.
“Once Michael said he wanted me to stay and he wanted to build the squad around the current players we had – me, Ali Lauitiiti, Richie Mathers and people like that – there was nothing more really for me to think about other than getting back into pre-season and working hard again.”
Despite the speculation, Kirmond insists he is happy at Wakefield.
“Definitely,” he said. “Obviously it was a little bit worrying with things that were happening, but the players we’ve brought in to replace the ones who have gone are really good.
“I think the squad looks a little different and a little fresher. The people who’ve come in offer something a little different to the ones who’ve gone out.
“I think there’s been some really good business done and I am really looking forward to playing again this season.”
Kirmond added: “It is a great club to be captain at. There’s a great set of lads here and it’s a place I really enjoy playing. I love coming in every day and to be captain of those lads is something I am very proud of.
“I am really looking forward to leading us out into another season.”
With two clubs to be relegated, Wildcats will be among the favourites for the drop and Kirmond admitted staying up is priority number one.
“That’s the goal for everyone,” he said. “You look at people saying we want to finish top-four or top-eight, but I think the first thing is to do as well as you can and make yourself safe. We aren’t really setting ourselves any goals, we just want to be really consistent again, pick off some early wins, get a good start to the season and really build on that.”
The pressure will be on Kirmond personally after he had a superb season in 2013.
“That is another challenge I am really looking forward to,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to be tough, but I have worked just as hard again and that’s one thing I will always do. I will always try my best, whether or not I get the same press or the same accolades as last year the main thing is the players and coaching staff know I am giving my all.
“I think they know I will do that all the time. As long as I’m doing my best I know I am doing myself justice.”