Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach Richard Agar is well aware that Sunday’s visit of early leaders Huddersfield Giants will be a tough test for his men - but believes they are ready for the challenge.
Paul Anderson’s Giants are setting the early pace in Super League thanks to three wins from as many matches, including impressive victories over St Helens and Wigan Warriors.
Wildcats are hitting some good form of their own, however, after bouncing back from an opening day loss at Bradford with back-to-back wins over Hull KR and London Broncos respectively.
It sets up Sunday’s clash between the sides at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium nicely and Agar is relishing the contest.
“We felt in training this week that we’re getting back to exactly where we want to be,” said Agar.
“We didn’t feel that running into the season and we knew it would take a little bit of time and we also thought a number of other clubs were probably in the same situation to us.
“[We had] A good turnaround against Hull KR and at the weekend we performed okay. To keep a team scoreless is a good effort, no matter what level of the game you’re playing at. Our on-line defence we organised ourselves really well. Attack wise, we got a little bit better in the second half.”
The Giants are set to provide Wakefield with their toughest test of the season and Agar has prepared his side to face a “strong and very powerful” side that will make the short trip in confident mood.
“[It’s going to be] A tough one, playing top of the league and they’ve knocked off Wigan and Saints so it’s fair to say there’s an air of confidence coming out around Huddersfield.
“They’ve started well over the last number of seasons. They look very strong and very powerful at the moment and they’ve got a big team that carry the ball really hard and they’re tackling very strongly at the moment. They can kick the ball a million miles and very accurately too so they’ve started the season well.”
He continued: “Every week brings different challenges and we’re well aware of the challenges these guys are going to bring.
“We’re at home and we’re on the back of two good performances, we know the levels we’ve got to get to but there’s no reason why we can’t go into the game in a good frame of mind.”
Agar will make just one change to his starting line-up with Lee Smith returning from a thumb injury to replace Reece Lyne, who has suffered a pectoral injury, at centre.
Lyne’s injury is a blow to Agar and Wakefield but Smith’s return comes at just the right time.
“I’m over the moon with his [Lyne’s] progress but he’s probably going to miss this weekend,” said the Wildcats boss.
“Reece has got a pec injury, we’re just waiting for the scans. We’re hoping there’s no tear in there. If there’s a tear in there he could be out for a while so that’s a disappointment because he’s been flying. If you look over the first three rounds and how individuals have performed he’s right up there with the best of our performers.
“He’s looked very dangerous and threatening with the ball. When we signed him we felt he was a kid who just needed to play and get some experience. We knew along the way he’d do some things he needed to improve on and he’d make some mistakes in there. He was coming into our team and playing in a position he probably not played for two or three seasons as well, even though he got a lot of experience as a junior.”
He continued: “Lee Smith is a pretty handy replacement. We lose a young player, one who’s been playing well, but to be able to stick a guy with Lee’s experience in is a terrific position for us to be in.
“The way Reece has performed we would have had to find a spot for him in our team, his form demanded that and he would have been in there somewhere. I’m not saying it would have been at Lee’s expense but he would have played.
“That’s good, we know during the course of the year that’s when you’re squad gets tested out when moments like this come and we’re lucky that we have a bit of quality of depth.”
Wildcats 19-man squad: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wood, Amor, Wilkes, Mariano, Mellars, Annakin.
Giants 19-man squad: Grix, George, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Ferres, Faiumu, Patrick, Chan, Murphy, Cording, Fairbank, Mullally, Johnson, Fielden.