Familiar foes prepare for battle
There has been no shortage of inside information available to the coaches in the build-up to tomorrow’s Stobart Super League derby at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, which resembles an old boys reunion.
Wildcats trio Andy Raleigh, Danny Kirmond and Kyle Wood, who all moved from Huddersfield Giants in the close season, will be facing their old team-mates, while at least four of the Giants’ seven-strong ex-Wakefield contingent will be making a return to Belle Vue.
Tommy Lee, Danny Brough, Luke George, Aaron Murphy, Scott Grix, Keith Mason and Dale Ferguson have all played for Wakefield at some stage in their careers but are now firmly in the Huddersfield camp.
Huddersfield-born Raleigh said: “It’s going to be a tough game. They’ve got players across the park who are world class and, being there seven years, I know they’re very well-drilled.”
Most eyes will be on wingman George, who has already scored two hat-tricks since joining his home-town club in the winter, and goalkicking half-back Brough, who was this week recalled to England coach Steve McNamara’s elite training squad.
Wakefield coach Richard Agar, who also coached Brough at Hull FC, reckons the player is currently in the form of his life.
“I think Broughy’s really matured as a player and as a person,” Agar said. “The club he has gone to has got an awful lot out of him.
“They probably got him at the right time but, at the same time, he’s fitted in really well to the way they want to play.
“He kicks the ball longer than anyone in the competition but, not only that, his touch on the ball is outstanding and he’s scoring a lot of tries.
“It’s no surprise he’s made it into the England squad again and he’ll probably have a real shout of playing if he keeps up this form.”
The ex-Huddersfield trio have become key men in Agar’s new-look Wildcats team but Giants coach Nathan Brown insists they will not have any extra motivation.
“They don’t have anything to prove to anyone at Huddersfield,” he said. “They all did fantastic for us. Andy was here a long time and contributed greatly on the field but also off it.
“Danny was the same and Kyle was here for two years and I don’t think anybody can fault their attitude and commitment to the club.
“We are wishing them all the best, just not too well against the Giants.”
While Huddersfield are aiming for a fifth win in six outings to leapfrog leaders Warrington Wolves, Wakefield are aiming to halt a three-match losing run.
“We’re not far off,” Agar said. “We’ve been highly competitive and could have won most of the games that we’ve been in. We know the wins will come if we keep performing as we are.”
Wigan Warriors, who can go top on points difference, are resting players for tomorrow’s visit to bottom club Widnes Vikings, but coach Shaun Wane insists he will not be taking Denis Betts’ struggling side lightly.
“There’s some great players in that Widnes team and Denis will be making sure they’re really motivated,” he said.
“I don’t think their recent performances have been very Widnes like. They will click one day soon and I just want to make sure it is not against us.”
Widnes have lost all five games so far and Betts is hoping the arrival of new signings Cameron Phelps, Sione Kite and Gareth O’Brien can provide them with a lift.
“I wanted to create a bit of accountability and their arrival will make it tougher for certain players to get into the side,” he said.
“The lads now know they will have to train hard all week or they will lose their spot, it’s as simple as that.
“The squad looks a lot better now these players are available.”