DEFIANT BOSS James Webster believes it can still be a “good year” for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Webster’s side are on a run of nine successive defeats and have slipped four points adrift at the bottom of First Utility Super League ahead of tonight’s trip to champions St Helens.
But Webster is confident they are improving and he reckons if that continues – and key players return from injury – Wildcats can secure top-flight survival.
“We definitely haven’t given up hope of this being a good year for us,” Webster said.
“Staying in Super League would be a good year. That is a good year at Wakefield every year and that will continue until the day commercially we can compete with other teams.”
Webster accepts Wildcats are almost certainly destined for the Qualifiers, involving Super League’s bottom-four clubs and the leading quartet from the Kingstone Press Championship.
The top four at the end of that will play in the elite division in 2016 and Webster added: “We wanted to be safe as early as possible, to recruit for next year.
“That’s probably not going to be the case, but we want to finish the year strongly.
“If somehow we do get into the top eight that will be great, but if not we are prepared to train hard and play hard in the second one to make sure we get what we want.”
Saints are formidable opposition for a team in Wildcats’ situation, but Webster insisted: “We aren’t going there thinking we’ve no chance.
“We are looking to try and improve and build some momentum. If we can add 20 per cent to last week (a 42-20 loss to Wigan Warriors), we are starting to get close.
“We have spoken about trying to fulfil some of our potential. They are a good team and a massive team and we know we have to go there and compete physically.”
Despite being without a league win since February 15, Webster said his players are remaining upbeat.
“The last three weeks have been our best weeks of training in a long time,” he said. “We’ve got Hull KR on tv next Thursday and then Leigh in the Challenge Cup. We’ve got a big couple of weeks coming up and we’re looking forward to it.”
Wildcats will be without prop Ian Kirke (broken thumb) and second-row Danny Kirmond (sternum, rib and knee injuries) from the team which lost to Wigan eight days ago.
Forward Jon Molloy is set to return and Joe Arundel could be recalled at centre, allowing Matt Ryan to switch into the pack.
Half-back Jacob Miller is in contention for a recall, along with winger Tom Johnstone.
Saints coach Kieron Cunningham will select from the players who beat Widnes last weekend, plus Mark Flanagan and Lewis Charnock.
St Helens have also signed Wests Tigers full-back Shannon McDonnell, 27, until the end of next season to cover for Jonny Lomax – out for the rest of the this term with a knee injury – and Paul Wellens.
St Helens from: Makinson, Fleming, Jones, Turner, Swift, Burns, Walsh, Amor, Roby, Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wilkin, Thompson, Walmsley, Percival, Richards, Savelio, Flanagan, Charnock.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from: Hall, Owen, Arundel, Lyne, Riley, Godinet, T Smith, Scruton, McShane, Kavanagh, Washbrook, Ryan, Crowther, Lauitiiti, Simon, D Smith, Molloy, Miller, Johnsone.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.