Returning forward Ali Lauitiiti has warned Salford City Reds to underestimate out-of-form Wakefield Wildcats at their peril.
Wildcats make the trip across the Pennines to the Salford City Stadium tonight (kick-off 7.45pm) on the back of four straight defeats in all competitions.
That run of form may see Brian Noble’s men licking their lips at the chance to secure a fifth win of the season and move level on points with Wakefield.
But Lauitiiti, who is set for a return to action after missing Wildcats’ home defeat against Wigan Warriors last weekend, says that could work in Wakefield’s favour as they look to keep their play-off hopes alive.
“I think every team at the moment sees us as a team they can beat at the moment and I think that’s a good thing for us because being underdog - that’s good to have,” he said.
“If they come with that attitude then that’s good for us. Hopefully they can drop their guard, we can play well and make the most of that.”
The Samoan international has labelled the game as a ‘must win’ if Wakefield want to make the top eight again this season.
Disappointing defeats against Hull KR, Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors have left Wildcats six points adrift of the play-offs with two games in hand, but Lauitiiti says the squad can take plenty of positives from the close loss against leaders Wigan.
“The main thing is the boys played well and much better than the last two weeks and I felt the boys put in a good performance and even though we lost it was a positive,” he said.
“It is a must win, the last three games were must win games but we didn’t come away with the results. The games against Castleford and Hull KR was a real down fall, I can’t speak for all the boys because some of them turned up but it was more of an attitude thing.
“The game last week they did really well and I felt their attitude, enthusiasm and will to turn up for each other was there and I think that’s what our coaching staff needed from us the two weeks prior.”
It will be Wakefield’s first trip to Salford’s new stadium after last season’s match was moved to the Leigh Sports Village.
Wildcats drew 23-23 against the Reds on home soil in March but Lauitiiti believes the Reds will be a different proposition in front of their home fans.
“It’s always going to be tough against a team that’s playing in front of their home crowd,” commented Lauitiiti.
“Salford, even though they’re struggling, they’re still competing and I think that’s the main thing for them.
“It’s going to be tough on Monday but we just need to work on ourselves. The things we’ve been working on in training is just trying to execute and be smarter in some areas of our game. We just need to turn up with the right attitude and execute our game plan.”
He added: “Getting on television is a bonus and we just need to play well. Hopefully teams can see that we pose a threat. It’s about us this Monday and us doing our jobs and putting up a good performance.”