Wakefield Wildcats: Wolves clash will gauge how far Cats have come

Chris Riley, left.
Chris Riley, left.

THERE WILL be an opportunity for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats to measure how much they have improved in recent weeks when Warrington Wolves visit Belle Vue on Sunday.

Wakefield were humbled 80-0 at Warrington in April, but Wildcats have got players back from injury since then, new signings have been made and coach Brian Smith has come in and made a rapid impact.

Former Warrington winger/full-back Chris Riley was part of the team beaten on his old ground three months ago and he feels Wakefield are in a much better situation now. He said: “At the time we were losing and losing players as well. We went into that game with Mickael Simon and George Griffin, who was on loan from Salford, at prop and we had Kyle Trout and Matty Ryan coming off the bench.

“You know you’re in a bit of trouble when you have to rely on back-rowers/centres playing front-row. I’m not making excuses, but the injuries we had made it tougher and we weren’t playing well either.

“It is a bit different now. We have got players coming back from injury and Brian Smith has got a bit of a selection headache.”

Riley stressed Wakefield can’t make Sunday’s game all about gaining revenge for their earlier drubbing.

“We are just concentrating on improving,” he said. “We’ve got three games left before the middle-eights and we are pretty happy with where we are at the moment, compared to where we were. There’s a lot of work to be done. We have to raise our game and hopefully we can get a result this week, but I think we are performing a lot better.”

Sunday’s match will see Brian Smith go up against his younger brother Tony for the first time as a head coach.

Riley played under Tony at Warrington and he said: “They are very similar in their coaching ways. I am sort of used to it, but it is good to have Brian here because I know he is going to push me as a player and improve us as a team. I had a great time under Tony. I didn’t know much about Brian before he came here, but everyone respects what he has done in the NRL and the success he had when he was in this country before. They are both very bubbly as well and Brian is good to have around.”