Wakefield Wildcats: Wilkes praises Wakefield’s strength-in-depth ahead of Rhinos tussle

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Oliver Wilkes believes the strength in the depth in the Wakefield Wildcats squad should help cushion the blow of losing key players this season.

Wildcats will be without skipper Danny Kirmond, Andy Raleigh and Tim Smith for the visit of Super League champions Leeds Rhinos on Sunday (kick-off 3.30pm), leaving players such as Kyle Wood, Chris Annakin and Kyle Trout to step in.

That doesn’t concern Cumbrian-born Wilkes, who believes Wakefield’s young and fringe players are more than capable of excelling in Super League in 2013.

“We’ve got a squad and that’s what squads are there for. The guys coming in can do good jobs and there’s a few guys been introduced to quite a bit of first team this year like Chris Annakin and Kyle Trout, they’re both doing fantastic jobs,” he said.

“We’ve got Kyle Wood playing in the halves which is his natural position and he’s relishing that. One door closes for one and another one opens for someone else.”

Competition for places is something Wildcats head coach Richard Agar is keen on and Wilkes has already experienced first hand that no place in the matchday squad is secure.

“I think last year with the squad we had there were a few that, with no disrespect to those individuals, were not going to get a look-in,” he said.

“But this year everybody in the squad is able to play and can do a job in there. So if you drop your game you lose out as I found out a few weeks ago. I was off the boil and missed out on a game and someone else came in and did a fantastic job.

“Luckily for me, personally, someone got injured and I got another opportunity otherwise I could have been sat on the sidelines for a few weeks.

“It’s competition for places and it’s healthy to have that, it’s got to have everybody on their toes.”

The 32-year-old is set to feature in the red, white and blue when Brian McDermott brings his men to Wakefield on Sunday.

Wakefield faced Leeds four times last season so, as good as the Rhinos are, there should be few surprises for Wilkes and his teammates.

“They’re always exciting games against Leeds,” he commented.

“The last four times we’ve played them they’ve been close games and I think it’s six times we’ve played them all-in-all in the last 18 months so we know a lot about them and we know what they’re going to bring, so bring on tomorrow and hopefully we can get the two points.”