INJURIES IN the backs have thrown a spanner in the works, but Ryan Hampshire is hoping for a head to head with “fantastic full-back” Stefan Ratchford when Wakefield Trinity take on visitors Warrington Wolves tomorrow.
Max Jowitt, a full-back, has been called into Trinity’s squad following Tom Johnstone’s season-ending knee injury and one option for coach Chris Chester is to switch Hampshire from last line of defence to left-wing.
That would risk disrupting what has been a successful formula this year with Hampshire – who finished last season in the halves – revelling in the number one role.
Ratchford has followed a similar path to become an established England international and Hampshire sees him as a player he can learn from.
“He is a fantastic full-back, probably the in-form full-back in the league,” said the Trinity man.
“I take little bits from his game and all the other full-backs’ games to add into mine so I am looking forward to challenging him [tonight].”
Danny Brough’s arrival at the club in the off-season prompted Hampshire’s change of position.
“I am just improving every week and that’s what it’s about,” he said of getting to grips with the role. “A lot people say full-back is the same as playing at half, but it isn’t at all.
“Defensively it’s different, you’re returning the ball, you’re counting numbers, you challenge for kicks and that sort of thing, then in attack you are just turning up wherever needed. I don’t know if I will be there for the rest of my career, but we’ll see what happens.”
Trinity are on the back of a fine win at Hull six days ago and could climb a place to fourth in Betfred Super League with victory tomorrow, but Hampshire admitted they are facing a team on top form.
“We’ve just got to play our game in attack, throw the ball about and challenge them in our plays and broken play,” he said.
“Their attack is fantastic, they’ve got forwards who plough it up and the backs are really athletic so we have got to turn up with a good attitude.
“We seem to turn up in big games, it is the lesser games when we seem to struggle for some reason. It is on TV and it’s a big game and I think we will turn up.”
Jordan Baldwinson has been drafted into Wakefield’s initial squad alongside Jowitt. Keegan Hirst and George King are also in contention.
Joe Arundel is set to replace another casualty, Bill Tupou. Danny Kirmond begins a two-game suspension.
Warrington are without Ben Westwood who was handed a four-game ban this week. Tom Lineham, Danny Walker and Harvey Livett are vying for a call-up.
Wakefield Trinity: from Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Baldwinson, Brough, Crowther, England, Fifita, Hampshire, Hirst, Horo, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, G King, Kopczak, Lyne, Miller, Pauli, Wood.
Warrington Wolves: from Atkins, Austin, Charnley, Clark, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hill, Hughes, T King, Lineham, Livett, Mamo, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, Ratchford, Tasi, Walker.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 7.45pm.