For Wakefield a season of hope and promise this year has unfortunately been overshadowed by matters off the pitch. Adam Watene’s death during training was an unforeseen tragedy that could potentially destabilise any club. Trinity have reacted to this unfortunate turn of events admirably, and now they need to show that they can keep it together as they start the season. Wakefield have to find themselves some purpose from this disaster and use the memory of Watene to spur them on through what seems to be simultaneously a promising and difficult season.
Wakefield are an odd side in that they have a creative midfield group almost on a par with any other in the competition in Danny Brough, Brad Drew and the excellent-on-his-day Jamie Rooney. The problem is that they don’t have the weapons around them to be a fully effective side. It would really help Wakefield if one of their backline had a breakthough year and turned into a major threat. Damien Blanch had a very successful World Cup campaign and is likely to be their main source of tries, but they could also do with the Tony Martin and Ryan Atkins becoming more imposing this year.
Wakefield’s other problem is consistency. Last season they simply ran out of steam towards the end of the season and ended the year in a fairly bleak manner,and one win in the final third of the season is certainly not the way to get into the playoffs. It might even be a simple matter of self-belief. If John Kear can convince his players that they are good enough to compete with the best that this League has to offer it could lead to this side showing their full potential. Kear has an enviable record at getting underdogs up for the battle, but perhaps he needs to convince his players that they shouldn’t have to be underdogs.
Wakefield have finished in 8th place for the past two seasons running. To do the same again this year would mean that they have forced themselves into the playoffs and thus would be seen as something of a success. However, they are part of a chasing pack that has grown in the past few seasons and they will really have to be on the ball to make sure they get to carry on playing through September.For the memory of Watene, Wakefield need to show that they believe they are ready to take the next step up.
Pros: Considering they were a side associated with the darker reaches of Super League until a few seasons ago, the current iteration of the Wildcats is something of an improvement. Always competitive, especially at home, and . They also supplied quite a few players to the Celtic nations at the World Cup who performed so admirably, and the likes of Damien Blanch will be eager to repeat their international form on the club stage.
Cons: After a fairly solid campaign last season Trinity seemed to run out of steam in the final stretch, with only one win in their final nine matches. If the Wildcats are serious in their playoff ambitions (and you would have ot think that they are) then they need to last the distance. They also seem to lack attacking threat and Blanch aside, it’s not entirely obvious where the tries are going to come from and they rely on all the players chipping in with scores.
Coach: John Kear has proved to be a good match for the Wildcats, steering them away from relegation in his first season and re-invigorating the club in subsequent seasons. However, he still hasn’t led the WIldcats into the playoffs and to avoid stagnation that should be their aim. Having changed the culture and mentality of the side, Kear now has to somehow lead them to the next level.
Captain: Jason Demetriou once again leads Trinity, this year wearing Watene’s no.8 jersey as a method of paying his and the team’s condolences
Key Man: Danny Brough had a successful World Cup campaign which has increased his profile, and he now needs performances to match in Super League. Winner of the inaugural Albert Goldthorpe Medal, Brough again needs to maintain his high standards and lead Wakefield around the park. Still only 26, Brough is entering the prime of his career, and Trinity will be hoping to benefit. If ably supported in organisational duties by Brad Drew and Jamie Rooney, Brough could wreak havoc.
Young ‘un: With quite a few back-rowers leaving the club in the off-season, now might be the time for Jay Pitts to make a move on a 1st team spot. He made a few appearances last season and will be hoping to add to his Super League experience extensively this year. Look for Wakefield to utilise him more and more as the season progresses.
Wild Card: By contrast to Brough, Jamie Rooney has never quite been seen as the model of consistency. However, when he’s on form he can be a force to be reckoned with, and it is necessary for the Wildcats to make sure that he and Brough are performing well together.
Gains: James Stosic, Steve Snitch, Dave Halley
Halley’s only coming on loan, but he’s looked a good player in the opportunities he’s had at the Bulls.
Losses: Duncan MacGillivray, Paul Reilly, Brett Ferres, Joe Hirst, Josh Griffin, Kyle Wood, Jason Golden
Some solid performers for the Wildcats have gone here, and with the number of players coming in being much smaller, Wakefield seem to show that they believe they have maintained enough personnel to get them through the season