THEY will be in rival camps tomorrow, but Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ rising star Reece Lyne has no doubt Lee Radford will make a success of his conversion from player to coach.
Radford has found the going tough in his debut campaign in charge of the Black and Whites, but Lyne believes the ingredients are there for the former forward to make a real mark on the British game.
“When I was at Hull he was the under-20s coach,” Lyne recalled. “He coached me there and he is really smart, he knows his stuff and he is really honest.
“That’s what players expect from a coach. If he is straight and honest, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear, you will accept that. He is a really nice bloke and I think he will go a long way in the game.”
Seven wins from 17 league games so far is a poor return for a club of Hull’s status and Lyne added: “They spend the full salary cap, so you would expect them to be challenging, but I think that’s testament to Super League this year. It is a really tight competition and anyone on their day can beat anyone. I think it’s good for the competition.”
Despite his admiration for Radford, Lyne knows a Wakefield win tomorrow would pile more agony on the Hull coach and add impetus to Wakefield’s developing push for a place in Super League’s all-important top-eight.
Said the 21-year-old wing or centre: “It is good to be going into it after two wins. We enjoyed those, especially the one against Wigan last week, but we know Hull are a tough team and we have prepared really well for it.
“We are two on the bounce now and are starting to look up. We genuinely believe if we knock Hull off we aren’t too far away from the play-offs, so we are really targeting this game and we want to put our best foot forward.”
Staying in Super League has been Wakefield’s priority since the start of this season and Lyne admits qualifying for the top-eight is a “tough ask”.
There is a precedent though. Two years ago Wakefield won their final seven games in the regular season to sneak into the play-offs and Lyne is adamant they won’t give up while there is even the remotest chance of achieving what would be one of the competition’s most unlikely feats.
“We will take it week by week,” he said. “If we win on Sunday it is not impossible. We are looking up now, rather than looking down. This is our third straight home game and we have got two more to come and we need to keep getting wins on our own ground. That is what we are focusing on.”
Hull are likely to be in a similar frame of mind as they sit just two points and one place above Wakefield in the table. “They class themselves as a top-eight club, if not top-four,” said Lyne. “They will be coming here looking to get into the play-offs themselves, so it should be a good game.”
Hull will have the extra motivation of setting the record straight following a catastrophic 23-16 home loss to Wakefield last month. Hull led 16-0 after 50 minutes and looked to be cruising to victory, only for the visitors to score four unanswered tries in the final 25 minutes.
Lyne did not play that day, due to a toe injury, but he said: “I think they will figure they owe us one after that.
“But we have had a good week’s training and we are two wins from two under Webbo [new coach James Webster] so we are looking forward to it.”
An eye-catching performance against his former club would be the perfect tonic for Lyne, whose try in his comeback game sealed the win over Wigan six days ago.
“The toe was a bit of a problem,” he said. “It has taken its time to heal and that was a bit of a disappointment. I played with the injury for about four weeks, injecting it and getting through, but then I couldn’t even train.
“Your big toe’s one you walk on and you are on it all the time, putting pressure on it, so it basically needed rest. It was disappointing because at the start of the season I thought I was finding a bit of form, then I got injured.
“It was good to be back with the boys last week and to get a run under my belt and the winning performance made it even more special. I think I have still got a bit of catching up to do, because it did affect my fitness. But I kept ticking over and doing weights, so I feel pretty strong. Now I am just hoping I can kick on,” added Lyne, who made 12 Super League appearance for Hull in 2011 and 2012 before moving to Wakefield.
Radford believes the return of Tim Smith to Wakefield’s colours, on loan after moving to Salford over the winter, has sparked Trinity’s revival.
“Wakefield have some good players and it has worked out well Tim Smith coming back in,” said Radford.
“He’s carried on where he left off and the job we do on him will have a big implication on the game. The partnership between him and Richard Mathers was good last year and they’ve hit it off again.”
And Radford is full of praise for former team-mate Webster.
“Webbo is two from two and you don’t get better than that. I get on really well with him and I’m glad to see he’s doing well because he’s a great bloke and a great coach. I just hope he falters this weekend,” he said.
“We have a good relationship and when he came to Hull as a player you could see he was a smart player.
“He was always destined to be a first team coach and I am pleased he’s got a couple of results to start with.”