THIS WEEKEND’S Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves will be the biggest game of Jason Walton’s career, if he gets the nod from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach Chris Chester.
Walton, who can play at centre or in the second-row, is facing an anxious wait until Chester names his team for Wildcats’ first semi-final since 2008, when they lost to Hull.
“I have played in semi-finals, but that was with Batley in the Northern Rail Cup and the Championship,” Walton recalled. “We got through to the finals, but I’ve not played in anything as big as this and I’m really looking forward to it, if selected.
“It would mean everything to me to play, it’ll probably be the biggest game of my career.”
By contrast, Warrington were Challenge Cup winners in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and beaten semi-finalists in each of the past two years – losing to Chester’s Hull KR last season.
They will be hot favourites to get back to Wembley, but Walton insisted: “I think we can handle it and we can turn up and shock Warrington.
“I think they think they’ve already got it won, but in a semi-final anything can happen.
“There’s no pressure on us really, we’ve just got to turn up and play as well as we can play. If we do that we can beat anyone.”
Wakefield won 36-28 the last time the sides met, at Belle Vue two months ago.
“We have shown we are capable of beating all the big teams,” Walton added.
“That’s what Chezzie [Chester] has done, he has given us confidence to play against these big players.
“We were off at the beginning of the year and everyone thought we were going to get relegated, but we’ve beaten Wigan 62-0 and we’ve shown what we can do.”
Wakefield will go into Saturday’s tie at Leigh on the back of a 46-20 defeat by Castleford Tigers in their final game of the regular First Utility Super League rounds.
They led three times, but an already below-strength team was weakened by injuries to Bill Tupou, Mikey Sio and Jon Molloy and Walton felt that was the key factor in the game.
“In the first half we were all over them,” he said. “But we only had one sub and we had our middles playing 60 minutes, which is not what usually happens. That’s probably what cost us the game.”
Meanwhile, Walton said he is “buzzing” for his old club Batley after they finished third in the Kingstone Press Championship to secure a place in the middle-eights Qualifiers. He said: “They are a part-time team and they’ve finished above two full-time teams. That is brilliant.”