WAKEFIELD TRINITY captain Danny Kirmond admits he faces a fight for his place in the side this year.
The second-rower has been an automatic selection since joining Trinity ahead of the 2012 campaign, making 130 Super League appearances and featuring 22 times last term, but the growing strength of coach Chris Chester’s squad means nobody is guaranteed a spot this year, he believes.
The 32-year-old is celebrating 10 years in the top-flight, having joined Huddersfield Giants from Featherstone Rovers – where he played as a winger – in 2008.
Kirmond’s second-row partner Matty Ashurst was Wakefield’s player of the year in 2017, they have signed Justin Horo from Catalans Dragons and big things are expected of 19-year-old prospect James Batchelor, so Chester has some welcome selection headaches ahead of the Betfred Super League opener at Hull KR three weeks tonight.
“Second-row is probably a position where we’ve not had much cover over the last couple of years,” Kirmond observed. “If me or Matty Ashurst has been injured it has been up to one of the young guys, who have probably been a bit too young, over the last few years, to play a bulk of games.
“Batch and Jordy Crowther are really good young players, but you can’t always rely on them to play 10-20 games, so I think it’s great we’ve brought in Justin Horo.
“He’s a really good player and was a stand-out last year for Catalans in a team that probably didn’t play as well as they would have wanted to.
“Batch is another year older now and he is a really good athlete and has played really well in both friendlies.
“It is going to be tough to get into the team, but I love a challenge. It kind of brings the best out of me and I am looking forward to it.The other thing is, it is team first with me. I love the place, love the team and I just want the team to do well. As long as that’s going all right I’m sure I’ll be pretty happy.”
This is the final year of Kirmond’s contract, but he insisted he is not sweating on what might happen next.
“It’s not something I am too worried about,” he said. “Things like that look after themselves. Some fellas get stressed out and worry about it, but I didn’t start full-time until I was 22 so every year has been a bonus and something I really appreciate.
“Whether this is my last year here or whether it extends another year or two years, I know it sounds a bit corny, but it really is living the dream.
“It’s what I wanted to do when I was a kid and I’ve had a chance to do that. I will work really hard to get a new deal, I’d love to stay here another year, but what will be, will be.”
Kirmond may have reached veteran status, but there has been no loss of enthusiasm ahead of what could be a crucial season for Trinity as they aim to break into Super League’s all-important top-four.
“I am feeling good, I had a really good off-season,” said Kirmond, who spent four weeks travelling with his wife in Thailand before resuming training.
“I felt really refreshed coming back in and it has been a good pre-season so far. Everyone’s working really hard and there’s a good atmosphere around the place.”