Wakefield Trinity Wildcats centre Lee Smith says victory over struggling Salford City Reds will be no walk in the park this weekend.
Salford visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3.30pm) propping up the rest of Super League thanks to just one win from their opening five matches, something that saw head coach Phil Veivers sacked last weekend.
Wakefield-born Alan Hunte has been handed the task of taking control of the Reds on a temporary basis by owner Marwan Koukash.
Unlike Wakefield’s last two matches, at Catalans Dragons and at home against Huddersfield Giants, Richard Agar’s men will be favourites to pick up maximum points and pile more misery on their visitors.
But Smith, who has yet to taste victory in his two games since returning from a thumb injury, says Wakefield need to be at the top of their game to ensure a return to winning ways.
“Maybe, yes but as players you don’t see it like that,” said Smith in response to Wakefield’s favourites tag for the weekend.
“You’ve just got to go out there and execute your own game plan and look at the threats that they’ve got.
“I think Super League’s that open nowadays that anyone can beat anyone and if you don’t perform on your day then you’ll get turned over and that applies from the top to the bottom.
“We’re looking to put things right from our point and view and look at the threats they’ve got and hopefully cut them down to a minimum.”
Smith and his Wakefield teammates are not too disheartened from back-to-back defeats - defeats, against Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons respectively, that could have easily been victories for Wildcats.
“I think we’ve been unlucky in the last couple of weeks so we’re looking forward to Sunday, getting back on our own patch and putting it right,” he said.
“We probably see them (Giants and Dragons) as top five or six teams, we’ve taken them right to the wire and possibly should have won in both.
“The Huddersfield one the decision didn’t go our way in that last minute, whether it was a forward pass or not I don’t really know, but the Catalans one we went 16-0 up, we shouldn’t be getting beat from 16-0 up but you’ve got to learn from that and now we need to learn to kill the game off when we get to that stage.”
Plenty of column inches have been handed to Salford’s new owner Marwan Koukash in recent weeks, not only regarding the sacking of Veivers but also over attempts to sign Wigan Warriors’ Sam Tomkins and statements in favour of increasing the salary cap.
Smith laughed off the bid for Wigan’s star full-back but believes Koukash’s arrival in Super League could be good for the game, as well as Salford.
“I haven’t paid much attention to it all. The only thing that Ive seen was the chairman’s bid for Sam Tomkins which I thought was a bit out there,” Smith commented.
“And then him saying this week that the salary cap should be whatever - he wants to go out and buy which I’m all for as a player.
“I’d hate to see Salford go under and they’ve got this guy in and it looks like he’s going to pump some money in and hopefully turn them into a real good competitive side which is good. Hopefully they can get back up and start pushing up there. I’m all for it.
“I don’t really know what’s happening with the coach, I haven’t paid much attention really, I know Tim Sheens has been mentioned, the Australian coach, so he’s going to the top again there. Hopefully they can get him, bring in a lot of players and hopefully be competing for the eight.”
Sunday’s game gives Smith the chance to sample his first victory of Super League XVIII after seeing what would have been a match-winning try ruled out for a forward pass against Huddersfield last time out on home soil.
As well as performing well for the team, he also has to perform well to keep his place in the side with Reece Lyne, who impressed in the first three rounds before suffering a pectoral injury, nearing a return to action.
“I haven’t been at my best but you don’t expect to be first game of the season. Hopefully now next couple of games I can pick up a bit of form and start playing well,” he said.
“Reece did really well and if he didn’t do his pec I’d have been struggling to get a spot. That’s the way it goes, I was lucky enough to get back in and it’s my shirt to lose now, as they say, or keep.”