AUSTRALIAN VETERAN Brian Smith’s appointment as coach has been welcomed by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Chris Riley – but he insists it is the players who need to turn things around.
The 56-16 Magic Weekend drubbing by Castleford Tigers was Wildcats’ 13th successive defeat in First Utility Super League and they are seven points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Smith, who has coached four teams to Grand Finals in Australia’s NRL, is due to arrive later this week and will watch Sunday’s game at home to Leeds Rhinos before taking charge the following day.
“He can only do so much,” Riley said of the 61-year-old, who is the brother of Tony Smith, coach of the winger’s former club Warrington Wolves.
“It is up to us to do what we need to do on the field.
“At the moment we’re just not doing it. Hopefully he will come in and implement a few ideas and a few things he thinks can direct us in the right way and we need to buy into it.
“If we do that quickly, hopefully we’ll turn the season around.”
Wildcats trailed 16-0 after 10 minutes against Castleford, but hit back to go in at the break only 22-16 behind, before conceding 34 points without reply in the second half.
“I thought in the first half we gave ourselves a chance to be in the game,” Riley said.
“We said before the game if we completed well and stayed in the arm wrestle, we would give ourselves a chance.
“But as a team, collectively, we are giving away too many penalties away, too many mistakes and too many missed tackles. In the second half it was just a one-way battle. It has been tough, over the last 10-12 weeks we’ve shown signs we are capable of causing teams trouble.
“There’s been games against teams like Wigan and Saints that we’ve been leading or been just six points behind at some stage.
“On Sunday we were only six points behind at half-time and even when we conceded that first try in the second half, it was 12 points and that’s nothing in rugby league.
“But we just seem to be letting ourselves down with the errors and mistakes. We can have one person having a bad game, but when you’ve got 11 or 12 not on top of their game – including myself – it’s hurting us.”
Riley added: “It’s disappointing and I feel for the fans. It is tough at the minute because our confidence is down.
“We are trying our hardest to get the two points. That’s the only way we are going to get confidence back, by getting a win – and we are still searching for it at the minute.”