Wakefield Wildcats: Agar calls on much-changed squad to produce professional performance against Hemel Stags

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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach Richard Agar expects his men to produce a professional performance to see off Hemel Stags in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

The Kingstone Press Championship One new boys travel to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 6pm) as huge underdogs against Super League opposition.

Agar says his men will treat Hemel with the respect they deserve but the Wildcats boss does not expect anything other than a place in the hat for the next round for his side come 8pm on Saturday night.

“It’s a great opportunity and a great test for them and a good day out for them,” he said.

“We’re treating them with every respect. We’ve prepared, we’ve watched tape on them but the reality is I’d expect us to do a job on them. The challenge for us is to be professional from the word go over the 80 minutes. It’s an opportunity for some guys to stake claims as well.”

Hemel will arrive in Wakefield in confident mood thanks to a run of three successive victories in all competitions.

They saw off Ince Rose Bridge in the last round of the cup and have won both of their opening Championship 1 matches, the latest a slender 21-20 success against Gateshead Thunder at the weekend.

Agar and his coaching team spent some time with Stags head coach Troy Perkins last season. The Australian is friends with Wakefield assistant James Webster and also knows Glenn Morrison, who was on the Wildcats coaching team last term.

“I’ve had a look at some tape of them,” said Agar.

“Their coach came up and spent some time with us last year. Troy knew Glenn and James Webster from back home and he came up and spent some time here. He’s a super guy who’s put a lot of time into rugby league down south over a number of years, he was a fair player himself.”

Although including under-19s players Ben Shulver and Dan Maskill, as well as a number of ‘squad’ players in his 19-man squad, Agar has still stuck with senior players including Tim Smith, Justin Poore, Andy Raleigh and Ali Lauitiiti for the clash.

But other first-team regulars such as Ben Cockayne, Peter Fox, Paul Aiton and Danny Washbrook have been rested as Agar has one eye on next Friday’s Super League trip to Widnes Vikings.

“We feel we’re in a position where we can rotate a little bit and give some blokes who have undoubtedly earned a rest over the last month, they’ve had a very heavy workload,” he commented.

“Paul Aiton is a guy I’ll use as an example and Danny Washbrook is another, we feel it’ll really freshen them up and benefit them mentally as much as anything - not having to get them ready for a game.

“I think the physical aspect, certainly in Pauly’s case, never looks to be an issue but mentally to have a weekend off, recharge your batteries and get ready for a big game next Friday.”