hooker paul McShane reckons Sunday’s Magic Weekend derby against Castleford Tigers could be a turning point in Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ season.
Wildcats will travel to Newcastle on the back of 12 successive First Utility Super League defeats, without a permanent coach and seven points adrift at the bottom of the table.
But McShane felt there were positive signs in the 30-18 home loss to Widnes Vikings two days ago and he predicted Sunday’s match at St James’s Park will see them take another step forward.
“It’s a big occasion,” the former Leeds Rhinos man observed. “It’s a new venue and it’s promoting the game in a different area. We will dust ourselves off and hopefully have a good week building up to it. If you can’t get up for a derby, you shouldn’t be in the sport.”
One of Wildcats’ two league victories this year was at Castleford in round one, three months ago.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” McShane said. “Cas have a good following wherever they play, hopefully we’ll have a good following and it will be a good game.”
Wildcats trailed 18-0 and 30-6 against Widnes, but showed fighting spirit at the end of both halves to close the gap.
“It was a tough week for everyone involved, or a tough couple of weeks, ” McShane admitted. “But we definitely made some improvements on Sunday, so there was a pleasing side to it. We’ve said all year, we just need to complete a bit better.
“That is still a bit down on where we’d like it to be, but if we can complete a bit better and show the same desire we did on Sunday, we should be all right.”
Wildcats had to do it tough in Sunday’s game, losing skipper Danny Kirmond to a head injury after just 36 seconds and having Matt Ryan sin-binned in the second half. The way they reacted to those setbacks was also cause for encouragement, according to McShane.
He added: “It was pretty stop-start, there was a lot of injuries in the game, but our concentration was good for most parts of it, where it hasn’t been in the past. To lose your captain isn’t nice, but everyone dug in.
“Although we didn’t get the win, it was an improved effort.”
Caretaker boss Stuart Dickens – Wildcats’ under-19s coach – was in charge for the first time against Widnes, less than a week after James Webster left the club.
McShane said: “Stu has brought his own type of play to it a bit.
“You can’t change too much at this point, but Stu has been around a good few years now so he knows how it works and he knows how his players work.”