Kirmond relishing step up
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will kick off a new era of leadership against Hull FC tomorrow looking to build on their recent good form.
The Wildcats, who have won their last two games to revive talk of a play-off bid, have this week restructured their captaincy, with forward Danny Kirmond taking the armband from Steve Southern.
Australian import Southern has suffered an inconsistent start to his time in England and voluntarily stepped down from the role to concentrate on his own game. He will remain part of the club's leadership group, though, while full-back Richard Mathers becomes Kirmond's deputy.
The new system has been in place at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium for the past fortnight but will get its first official airing tomorrow, and Kirmond is looking forward to it.
“It is something I am really proud of and it’s a massive honour to captain your hometown club,” he said.
“It is not something that I have really looked at doing before but being given the opportunity is a huge accolade for myself.
“I’ve never been a captain elsewhere and when I came here I was the vice-captain which I feel helped myself out on the field and helped me push just that little bit harder. As soon as the opportunity came up to step up to the next level, it really was something I wanted to grab hold of with both hands.
“I have captained a few games when Steve has been out too which is something I really enjoyed and that has shown in my form and I think that’s why I’ve been handed this opportunity."
Hull head west along the M62 knowing that they should be doing so with some better results behind them.
Peter Gentle's side squandered a 14-point lead against Hull KR at the Magic Weekend a fortnight ago, and could only draw 18-18 with St Helens last time out, despite putting their opponents under a barrage of pressure - including the forcing of eight drop-outs.
None of that stopped forward Danny Tickle earning an England call-up this week, though, with the goal-kicking second row rewarded for some strong performances over the last 18 months.
Tickle worked under Wakefield boss Richard Agar throughout his four-year spell in charge of Hull, and knows what a difficult threat his side will pose tomorrow.
"Wakefield seem to be bang in form and it is always a tough place to go," he said.
"They are one of a number of sides who will still fancy themselves to sneak into the play-offs and are always difficult.
"For us, we need to concentrate on doing a little bit more to finish games off if we get the chance. We have been working hard on that."
Tomorrow's other game sees Salford City Reds head to Castleford Tigers.
The Reds have recorded impressive back-to-back wins over Huddersfield Giants and Catalan Dragons in their last two fixtures and are now looking like genuine play-off contenders.
They will come up against a Castleford side hopelessly out of form and shipping points at a rate of knots. They conceded 42 at Bradford Bulls on Monday, having let in 70 and 32 in the weeks preceding that fixture.
As a result, the odds favour Salford, but their coach Phil Veivers is refusing to make predictions on the back of his side's recent upturn.
"We have some very important games coming up and all we can do is keep going out there performing to the best of our ability," he said.
"There will be no bold statements or predictions from me – I just want us to keep working hard, progressing and developing.
“We have played well – we showed terrific character last time out and there is everything to play for from here on in."
It is already getting to the stage where Cas have little to play for other than pride.
After an exciting campaign in 2011, when they blooded a stream of youngsters and topped the table at one stage, they have floundered badly this time around.
Their players released an apology for their performances recently and Australian back Ryan McGoldrick, who is calling time on his seven-year stay with the club at the end of the season, knows they have not been good enough.
"You can’t sugar-coat it and say it’s this reason or that reason, we’ve just been terrible," he said.
“Monday’s game at Bradford summed that up. It was fairly boring and dour to play in. We have got to find some sort of solution to what’s going wrong, if not for the fans and the club just for ourselves and our families."