WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats’ captain Danny Kirmond last night admitted it has taken barely one conversation to convince him that incoming coach Brian Smith can turn around the ailing club’s fortunes.
The second-row was helpless once more as Trinity endured a 14th successive Super League loss when falling 58-26 to Leeds Rhinos on Sunday.
The competition’s bottom team are in dire need of help as the threat of relegation looms large with the Qualifiers set to arrive in August.
Veteran Australian coach Smith came out of retirement to fly over last week and, having taken just a watching brief versus Leeds, took charge for the first time yesterday.
The 61-year-old, who has reached four NRL Grand Finals with St George (twice), Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters, is rated one of the best coaches of the modern era.
Smith, who coached Hull from 1988 to 1990, is credited with instigating the requisite changes during his year at Bradford Bulls in 1996 that led to that club becoming one of the most successful of the summer era.
Many who have worked with Smith say he has an “aura” about him and Kirmond concurs.
“His name carries a lot of significance and, already I can see why he’s been at the places he has and done such a good job there,” said the Trinity forward.
“I’ve only spoken to him a couple of times but I can see he can get the best out of people.
“He’s honest and tells you what he thinks, while people who have worked with him before have said he will improve us.
“That’s one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Kirmond, 29, added: “Obviously, he’d taken a bit of a back seat last week after arriving on Thursday and let (caretaker) Stu (Dickens) run things.
“But he spoke to us after the match Sunday and again (yesterday) and he’s laid down what he wants to do. It’s an exciting time.
“He’s told us that whatever he wants, he’s in this with us and, though it’s not going to be easy, he knows already where we’re going wrong and he is confident he can fix that. He’s given everyone a lift. I definitely believe what he’s saying and it’s given me a boost listening to him.”
Wakefield are destined to be consigned to the Qualifiers – Super League’s bottom four taking on the Championship’s elite quartet – given they are 12 points behind eighth-placed Widnes Vikings with just seven regular rounds remaining.
But Smith’s task is to stop the rot and gain some winning form once more ahead of those play-offs games, at least then reducing the chances of them slipping down into the second tier.
They host Salford Red Devils on Sunday, a perfect chance to arrest that decline given their 11th-placed foes have lost eight consecutive games themselves.
Salford, meanwhile, have warned potential bidders they will have to pay a world-record transfer fee for unsettled scrum-half Theo Fages, the 20-year-old regarded by owner Marwan Koukash as the “hottest property in Super League”, who has submitted a transfer request.
England’s Ben Westwood could miss Warrington’s game at Huddersfield after being charged with making dangerous contact against Catalans while Joe Cobb, 28, has joined the RFL’s rota of full-time referees.