Up for the cup: Wakefield’s Nick Scruton came through the Rhinos academy but is determined to dash their Challenge Cup hopes. Peter Smith reports.
THEY ARE still hurting from their poorest performance of the season, but prop Nick Scruton reckons Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will be much better when they face Leeds Rhinos in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup this weekend.
Wildcats were thrashed 44-6 at Hull KR two days ago, in a performance boss Richard Agar described as lacking skill, determination and effort.
Scruton admitted everyone associated with the team was shocked by how poorly they played at KC Lightstream Stadium but insisted they will go into this weekend’s tie in confident mood and with a real chance of pulling off an upset.
Scruton said: “I don’t think anybody saw it coming. I think it’s the old cliche, a bad day at the office.
“Nothing went right, we started off badly and it snowballed from there. We gave ourselves too much to do and didn’t give ourselves a chance.
“There was too much easy ball turned over, simple dropped ball. We defended and defended and when you have days like that you are going to concede points – though you shouldn’t concede as many as we did. It wasn’t a good day but it is the Challenge Cup this week, against Leeds at home. You don’t need much picking up for a game like that.
“It is a massive game for us and one we are going to go into confident. We will dust ourselves down, go through the video and then get on with it.
“It won’t be a nice couple of days, but once you’ve done the video you can move on and get ready for Leeds.”
Scruton said Wildcats will be determined to make up for their display at Hull KR when they face Rhinos. He added: “I am 100 per cent positive we will have a good response.
“We have got a good set of lads and a good coaching staff. We will work hard for each other in the week and I am sure we’ll have a good response – and it’s a good occasion to have it.”
The most surprising aspect of the defeat two days ago was that it came after three positive performances – 50-point scorelines against Catalan Dragons and London Broncos and a narrow home loss to Super League table-toppers St Helens.
“It was a shock,” admitted Scruton. “We had a couple of good wins and then pushed Saints quite close and everyone thought we were going in the right direction.
“I still think we are, it was just a one-off. You don’t become a bad team overnight. We have still got the same players and I think we just need to get back on the training paddock and put things right on there.”
Leeds will also go into the Cup tie on the back of a loss – their first defeat of the season, away to Saints last Friday.
“They are an outstanding team,” said Scruton of his former club. “They put you under a lot of pressure and their team is full of internationals.
“But we are all confident in our own game and if we put things right we are capable of scoring points ourselves. If we play well I think we will win.”
Wildcats’ priority this year is staying in Super League, by finishing outside the bottom-two. Despite that, Scruton reckons Sunday is a crucial game for the club and he feels they can make an impact in the Challenge Cup, if they get past Leeds.
He said: “Obviously the big thing at the end of the season is we need to be in Super League next year. We have to avoid relegation, but the Challenge Cup is a massive thing for everyone in rugby league.
“It is a cup I have never won and I am desperate to win it before I finish. A good cup run is a goal you set at the start of the season and it’s a big thing for the club because it brings in revenue.
“It is a good thing for everybody and I am desperate to have a good cup run this year.”
At least five Super League teams will be eliminated this weekend and Scruton reckons a favourable draw could see an unfancied side progress at least as far as the semi-finals.
“The opportunity is there,” he stated. “There’s a lot of all-Super League ties this weekend. As soon as the draw was made everyone was messaging each other saying if we win this game we are in with a massive chance and who knows where we can go from there? Wakefield on our day, we are a side that can beat anybody and nobody will like coming to Belle Vue.
“We know if we play well, at home, we can beat anybody, so a good cup run is certainly not out of our reach.”
Scruton came through Rhinos’ academy and made 64 Super League appearances for his home-town club.
He left at the end of 2008 to join Bradford Bulls and moved to Wakefield earlier this season, as a result of the Odsal outfit’s financial problems.
“It’s still special playing against Leeds, you never lose that. It is always the first fixture I look for and it’s one I always try and raise my game for. I am still a Leeds lad and it is always nice to play them.”
Wildcats’ medical staff are checking on three-quarter Reece Lyne (toe) and forwards Taulima Tautai (hand) and Scott Anderson (ribs) after they picked up injuries at Hull KR.
On-loan Leeds centre Jimmy Keinhorst missed the game two days ago due to a hamstring problem but Rhinos have confirmed he is eligible to play for Wakefield if he recovers in time.
Wildcats’ former Leeds hooker Paul McShane is in danger of missing the back-to-back Cup and Super League clashes with his previous club, after being charged with making Grade C dangerous contact with Hull KR’s Rhys Lovegrove in the 42nd minute of Sunday’s game. McShane, who is not eligible for an early guilty plea, will appear before the RFL disciplinary tonight and is facing a ban of two to three matches if convicted.