WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS are heading in the right direction despite their opening pre-season result, captain Danny Kirmond claims.
Wildcats were crushed 50-28 at Leeds Rhinos last week, but Kirmond insisted that was a setback rather than anything more serious.
And he said coach James Webster and his players can fine-tune training now they know where they need to improve.
“There is a lot of work on, but we knew that going into the game,” Kirmond said. “We said we wanted to focus on our defence and that wasn’t really good enough.
“Leeds played some really good stuff and scored some attractive tries – as we did. I think it was an entertaining game, but we knew we were always going to have a lot of work to do after it anyway, so it hasn’t knocked us too far back. We just know where we are and how far we have to go.”
Kirmond identified the performance of some of Wakefield’s new signings and young players as a positive to take from the defeat.
“Matty Ashurst had a really good game,” he said of the former Salford Red Devils back-rower. “Especially at the back end, I thought he was punching quite a few holes in them.
“I thought young Tom Johnstone, who played the full 80 on the left-wing, did very well. He’s very quick. Webbo has put a lot of faith in him and he’s putting a lot of pressure on our starting wingers now, which is good.
“At our club that’s what you look at. Look at the young kids Leeds put in and they wouldn’t look out of place in a lot of Super League teams.
“We are starting to try and build from the bottom up now, which is important. It is good to see the likes of Tom and Jordy (Jordan Crowther) starting to put a bit of pressure on people.”
Wildcats are back in pre-season action on Sunday, February 11, when they play host to Kingstone Press Championship neighbours Featherstone Rovers.
“Pre-season has gone well,” Kirmond insisted. “The Boxing Day result wasn’t ideal, but it is not knocking us back too much.
“It’s more than a month to the start of the season, we’ve had a really good pre-season so far and everyone has slotted in nicely.
“It has been really enjoyable. There has been some tough work, but if you compare it with where we were last year, it is 10-fold better.
“We are under no illusions it is going to be a tough season and if you look at the fixtures, I don’t think you can pick out any easy games.
“That goes for every team. No one likes coming to Wakefield and it’s the same for every team.
“It is going to be tough and entertaining right throughout. We know it’s going to be a tough old slog, but we are confident of where we can go.
“We think we have put a good squad together and I still believe that, despite the result last week.”
A major consolation for Wildcats from Boxing Day was their share of a bumper 10,431 gate, which provided vital income midway through pre-season.
Kirmond reckons the game was a worthwhile exercise, despite the result.
“It works for a lot of things,” he said. “It is a good early hit-out. It is a long way to the season still, so it gives you a good indication of what you do need to work on and things like that. It is a great tradition as well – you could see that from the fans that turned up. It was the best attendance they’ve had (on Boxing Day) for five years, so that’s great for the game as a whole.”