Danny Kirmond believes Wakefield Wildcats are well equipped for a much-improved start to Super League XVIII after stumbling out of the blocks last season.
Wakefield won their season-opener at Widnes Vikings last year but lost their next five games on the spin as they adjusted to a big overhaul in playing and coaching staff.
The Wildcats skipper is looking for a better points return from Wakefield’s opening fixtures this season - and is confident they can achieve just that.
“We didn’t start too well last year which was probably the only negative on the season as a whole,” he said.
“We’re definitely looking to start better than we did last year.
“The games we did lose at the start we weren’t too far away in, losing by four or eight points, and we had a huge turnover and it took a bit of time to gel.
“This year we’ve had three new faces come in and they’ve all settled in very well.
“We’re definitely in a better position this time than we were last time.”
Kirmond is not giving away any targets set within the Wakefield camp but an improvement on last season, which saw them secure a top-eight spot, may be the order of the day.
It will not be easy, with the captain well aware teams that finished below Wakefield last season have improved over the close season.
“A number of teams that didn’t make the eight will pushing to make it this year,” he said.
“We don’t really think about it that much, we just know we want to improve on what we did last season. That’s more of a performance-based thing and we know if we perform to the best of our abilities then the results and league position will eventually look after itself.
A trip to the Provident Stadium will provide arguably a tougher opener for Wakefield than it did 12 months ago against Super League new-boys Widnes.
Kirmond is well aware of the problems the newly-owned Bulls will pose on their own turf, but believes Wakefield can come away with maximum points if they perform to their potential.
“They beat is at home and at their place last season and it’s always a tough game when you go to Bradford,” he commented.
“They’ll be looking to start well. They’re under new ownership and maybe they have a little bit of a point to prove so it’s up to us to go there, match them and look after our own performance, which is what we tend to do really well and hopefully, if we do that, we’ll come out with the right result.”
The 27-year-old was honoured with the Wildcats’ captaincy midway through last season but it will be the first time he has started a season as skipper.
Hailing from Sharlston, he is the first captain of the club from the village since Neil Fox and will be full of pride when he leads the side out on Sunday at 3pm.
“I’m as proud now as the first time I did it,” he said.
“Leading the team out is something I look forward to and I’m enjoying it even more now.
“I think I’m stepping into the role a little bit more than I was at first. I’m getting used to it, I’m starting to add a few little things to what I’ve been doing.”
Make sure you pick up a copy of next week’s Express for the first ‘Captain’s Column’ feature with Kirmond.