PLANNING FOR next year has begun, but Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach James Webster insists 2014 still matters.
Wildcats are safe from the drop and have only a faint prospect of qualifying for the play-offs, but Webster said they won’t put their cue on the rack.
“We are looking forward to putting our best foot forward for the last six weeks of this competition,” Webster stressed, despite admitting he may give some of his younger players an opportunity over the next six matches.
“We still want to win games. We are still an outside chance of making the play-offs, but things would have to fall ridiculously well for us for that to happen.
“Every game is important – you have got to have some pride in playing first grade for your club. We won’t be putting teams out that we don’t think can win, but there’s always a bit of method behind what you want to do at this time of year.
“We are looking at next year as well, so we will probably play fewer people who are busted up than we had to earlier in the year. If that means people who are younger get a chance, then they will do.”
Wildcats visit Warrington Wolves tomorrow and Webster is calling for a tougher performance than the one they put in at Catalan Dragons a week ago.
“Warrington are a great side,” Webster said. “They had a small blip last weekend against Widnes, but some of the tries they conceded were probably against the run of play.
“You have got to control the ruck against Warrington. They play a lot out of dummy-half and they are a fast team, so we need to improve our physicality from last week to be able to compete.”
The coach said last week’s 40-6 defeat – after five unbeaten home games – had been coming.
“You can’t get yourself up just to play on emotion for five, six or 10 weeks – you just can’t do it,” he said. “We knew that was going to come eventually, it was just a case of when.
“We probably weren’t as bad as the scoreboard said, but we got punished for any mistakes we made. Catalans played extremely strong and plenty of teams have got hammered there.”
The positive last week was a strong performance from Catalan prop Mickael Simon, who will join Wildcats next year.
“Mickael played really good,” Webster stated. “He needs an opportunity, he has played a lot of first grade, but he wants to play more. I spoke to him before the game and said he doesn’t need to show anything we don’t already know – he has already been signed, so we didn’t need a good performance from him!
“But I think he was keen to set a marker down for next year. It was good to watch him play, but he probably played a bit too good for my liking.”
Webster will select for tomorrow from the 17 who lost to Catalan, plus Matty Wildie and Jarrod Sammut.
Matt Ryan, who is due to undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday and had been ruled out for the season, is included in the initial 19, but will only play if more injuries occur before kick-off.
Ben Harrison, Joel Monaghan, Richie Myler and James Laithwaite are back in contention for Warrington, with Brad Dwyer and Joe Philbin dropping out of last week’s team.
Warrington Wolves: from Russell, Ormsby, Ratchford, Atkins, Evans, Bridge, O’Brien, Hill, Higham, England, Westwood, Currie, Wood, Asotasi, G Riley, Harrison, J Monaghan, Myler, Laithwaite.
Wakefield Wildcats: from Mathers, C Riley, Lyne, Keinhorst, Owen, Sykes, Smith, Raleigh, McShane, Moore, Gilmour, Kirmond, Washbrook, Lauitiiti, Tautai, Scruton, Wildie, Sammut, Ryan.
Referee: Tim Roby (Preston).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.