Business as usual for Agar as Wildcats get set for Catalans Dragons test

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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach Richard Agar insists it is business as usual when he takes his side to face Catalans Dragons on Saturday.

Agar, who was also confirmed as France head coach last week, will name his first national squad over the weekend - a squad that will include plenty of players from the Dragons.

But his focus will be fully on trying to bring two big points back to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium for his improving squad at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

“It won’t be strange at all, it’s good really,” said Agar.

“It’s good for me to have a very close look at them. One of the things I’ve had to do behind the scenes this week is put the 40-man squad together for France to announce at the weekend. I’ve spoke with the rest of the French staff and I’ve managed to do that. It’s fair to say that most of the guys playing at the weekend will be in the squad.

“It’s been good to have a look at them but at the same time my focus on watching Catalans has very much been about how we’re hopefully going to put a big performance in against them this week.”

The French side will provide a big test for Wakefield as it is but Agar is also well aware how the travel involved to Perpignan can impact on a team’s performance.

Wildcats got the pre-match preparation right for their last away trip, to London Broncos, and the Wildcats boss is confident his players can do the same this weekend.

“I think they’re a very big and physical team and you’re playing them on their home ground - they’ve been a very formidable outfit over there for a couple of seasons now and there’s the extra travel,” said Agar.

“Managing travel and downtime is very much a prerequisite of the job and how you handle that time is very important.

“You don’t want to get too far away from your routine, spend more time sleeping more than you would, eating more than you would, but having that ability to manage your time and kill your time efficiently.

“We’re going a day early [than last season] so we have got some sizeable elements that we’ve got to manage. But at the same time I also feel you can utilise that time and I think we’re the type of group that actually does thrive on this time together.

“We use it in a very positive way to try and do little things in there to pull the boys together. They really enjoy one another’s company and getting out and training in a different field in a different country. It still puts a spring in your step, it’s a good trip to make and the positives far outweigh the negatives. But certainly, the challenge that we’re going to get from a team that I know would have been fairly disappointed from what they turned out last week - that’s not taking anything away from the opposition because they were pretty good - but they probably feel that they were a little bit under-par last week.”

Wildcats were quick to put the opening-day disappointment of defeat at Bradford Bulls behind them with back-to-back wins over Hull KR and London Broncos, as well as an encouraging performance in a slender loss against Huddersfield Giants at the weekend.

Agar put the blame for their sluggish start partly down to a “chequered pre-season” but has been pleased with the response of his men.

“Going into Round 1 we didn’t quite know what we were going to get, we were shocked when we got what we got,” admitted the Cats coach.

“But the turnaround came from the moment we showed the review after the Bradford game and the players actually saw it for themselves.

“The players have done a great job in getting themselves up to the levels we know they can achieve and the levels we know that are required if we’re going to get results against good sides in this competition.

“We’ve got there, it’s reflecting in the way we’re training and the boys are really starting to get that good feel and confidence about them again.

“We can’t be too put off track by what happened last week. We take the positives, realise that we can’t make so many errors but we’ve given ourselves plenty to build off.”