FORMER LEEDS Rhinos hooker Paul McShane is quietly confident about what Wakefield Trinity Wildcats can achieve this year – despite predictions they are destined to finish bottom of Super League.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said McShane, who is beginning his second season at Wakefield. “It’s a new competition really, so I think everyone at the club, including me, is excited about the challenge ahead.
“We got written off last year, everyone said we’d get relegated and we stayed up. It is just down to us as a team and a club to prove those people wrong.”
That will take a big improvement after Wildcats finished 12th out of 14 last year. The competition has since been reduced by two clubs, meaning Wakefield have the most ground to make up if they are to avoid finishing in the bottom four and being plunged into a battle against relegation.
But McShane insisted: “Last season was last season. We know some of our performances weren’t good enough, but we’re looking forward to the challenge this year. We’ve improved everywhere across the park and I think we’ve got a good squad. We have bonded really well over pre-season and we’ve got everybody back early, which we didn’t have last year.
“We had people here in dribs and drabs last year, so to get everyone back early was good and the way we’ve been training, there is definitely a buzz around the club.
“We’ve had a lot of changes playing-wise, in key positions as well and the pre-season games have been good for everyone to get used to each other. We have taken a lot from those games and definitely improved in each one. We’ve got a lot bigger pack this year and there’s probably a lot more experience in the side as well, which is only going to stand us in good stead for the tougher games and the more important games.”
Meanwhile, McShane is also taking a step up off the field in his role as coach of Hunslet Club Parkside. The club, formerly Hunslet Old Boys, have switched from winter to summer and are preparing for their debut in the National Conference’s Division Three.
“It is a big step, after being in the Pennine League so long,” McShane said. “We’ve taken over a youth side (Hunslet Parkside) in the area as well and it’s something we’re looking forward to, me as a coach and the club.”
McShane admitted combining the two roles isn’t easy. He added: “The hardest thing is trying to keep the same team every week. You can’t do it, because players have families and work commitments and at the end of the day they are only coming for the love of the game and to have a laugh with their mates. But it’s good, I have them two or three times a week and they are a great bunch. Most of them are friends and it is rewarding to see where the club’s gone over the last few years. It is fun at the minute, I did it to help my friends out and they’ve kept me involved. The club are great. They have really embraced me, whatever I need they provide for me, so it is a good club to be involved with.”