Agar backs trio to make impact
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach Richard Agar is hoping the return of vastly-experienced trio Tim Smith, Paul Sykes and Ali Lauitiiti will make all the difference as they bid to end a run of four consecutive defeats.
Scrum-half Smith and second rower Lauitiiti both sat out last week's defeat by Wigan Warriors while goalkicking stand-off Sykes has been missing for six weeks with a knee injury.
However, all three will return for tomorrow's trip to Salford City Reds for a game labelled by Agar as a "must-win" fixture if they are to keep their Super League play-off hopes alive.
"We are talking about some players that have been pivotal to what we've achieved over the last 18 months," said Agar, who guided the Wildcats into the top eight with a late-season flourish in 2012.
"We've put ourselves in a position where this game becomes a very vital one.
"At the moment, it's the most important game we've had this season and we're very much treating it that way. We've a desperate bunch of players.
"The longer turnaround certainly gives us no excuses with our preparation. I'd like to think we're fully energised."
Second rower Frankie Mariano is also in contention for Wakefield following his return from a loan spell with Featherstone, who have taken centre or second rower Vince Mellars in return.
Salford, who are just a point ahead of bottom club London Broncos, are boosted by the return of Australian prop Shannon McPherson, who has been out since March with a knee injury.
The Reds also expect to have former Leeds Rhinos front rower Darrell Griffin back after he missed last week's defeat at Warrington Wolves and Agar believes they have become a genuine threat since the arrival of coach Brian Noble.
"Watching Salford over the last five or six weeks, I've seen some improvement," Agar said.
"Their line is a lot straighter, defensively they look organised and they are carrying the ball hard.
"I suppose they lack the strike of some teams in the top half of the table but I think they've turned themselves into a very honest side that looks quite determined to finish off the season as strong as they can.
"Their home form has been okay, we feel it's going to be a tough game."
Agar has also pinpointed Reds captain Martin Gleeson, the former St Helens and Great Britain centre, as a key threat.
"He's still got the class to trouble most teams and we've got to be mindful of the pace out of back field of Jodie Broughton," he added.
"They carry the ball really strongly and I understand a couple of front rowers are coming back this week.
"Blokes like Griffin and McPherson, if he's back, will give them plenty of punch up front."