Kyle Wood knows all about the pressures of making your first team debut.
The half-back came through the youth ranks at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and went on to play for Doncaster, Sheffield Eagles, Batley Bulldogs, Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants before returning to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium - and he is still only 23.
Today, in Wakefield’s fourth round Challenge Cup clash against Hemel Stags, he will be one of Wildcats’ more senior players as head coach Richard Agar rings the changes to his squad.
Wood will lead Wildcats around the park from the halves and will also give a helping hand to under-19s players Ben Shulver and Dan Maskill, who are both set to make their debuts.
And he is confident the pair will go well in their first senior outing in the red, white and blue.
“It’ll be a big game for them,” he said.
“Obviously they’ll be nervous coming into this kind of environment but they’ve just got to relax. We’ll tell them what to do and as long as they’re enthusiastic and try their best I’m sure they’ll do well.
“They’ve trained this week with us and they’ve not looked out of place at all. They just need to rip in and give 100 per cent and they’ll do well for us.”
Wood has featured in all but two of Wakefield’s matches so far this season but this appearances have usually come as a replacement due to Tim Smith’s key role in the Wildcats team.
He is set for a starting role against Hemel today and hopes the experience of training and playing alongside Smith helps improve his own game.
“I need that game time. I’ve only missed two games this year but I think it’s the game time I need so hopefully this week I’ll get that,” he commented.
”Playing in the halves there’s a bit more responsibility on my shoulders, I’ll need to take the team around the park so it’ll be good for me this week
“I’m playing in the centre and I’m trying to do what Timmy does in the field, trying to organise the team and take the team around the field and put the plays on like Timmy does so it’ll be good to do it this week,” he said.
“I look up to Timmy. He’s a real good organiser and he’s a good talker. He’s always two or three steps ahead which is what I’m trying to learn off him.”
Wood, who can also play at hooker, admits to not knowing a great deal about today’s opponents from the Kingstone Press Championship One division.
But he says Wakefield must have the right attitude going into the game and knows an impressive win could help Wildcats kick-on for the rest of the season after winning just one of their last eight games.
“I don’t know much about them but I’ve seen a few results, I know they beat Gateshead at the weekend so it’ll be interesting,” he commented.
“We’ve just got to turn up with the right attitude and put in a good team performance.”
He continued: “Obviously only winning one in eight, we’ve got to look at ourselves and see where we need to improve and we’ve done that this week so hopefully now we’ll use this as a springboard, hopefully score a few points and take some confidence into the rest of the season.”