AS someone who has mastered the exhilarating skill of offloading, it must have been a little difficult for Ali Lauitiiti to witness Super League’s opening weekend.
On one hand, it was pleasing to see so many clubs looking to utilise the tactic and promote so much ball in the image of what has made the Kiwi such a star here now for almost a decade.
However, on the other, one of the prime exponents – along with Huddersfield Giants who thrashed St Helens 40-4 – was Bradford Bulls.
Unfortunately, as they ran around Odsal like Harlem Globetrotters, it was all at the expense of Lauitiiti’s own Wakefield team who were vanquished 40-6 in an embarrassingly inept display.
He never got chance to showcase his own skills given the visitors barely had any decent ball to work with but the time for redemption arrives this evening when Trinity bid to start their season at the second attempt against Hull KR.
“It is good to see (offloading) but I also think coaches are trying to tighten up on their defences too,” said the gifted second-row, who won five Grand Finals with Leeds Rhinos before joining Wakefield last term.
“They are trying to emphasise that because everyone looks at Super League as mainly about quick attacking.
“But at the end of the day I think it’s who’s the more dominant; who’s running harder and creating more opportunities.
“You could see that the teams at the weekend that did that got their rewards and were able to play.
“We didn’t turn up and Bradford wanted it more than us. It showed with the result. We have to turn that around against Hull KR.”
It has been a week of painful reflection for the Wildcats who had surged so memorably into the play-offs with that late burst of form at the end of last season.
Head coach Richard Agar made it clear that their shambolic defending would not be accepted again and the players themselves were quick to accept the blame.
Trinity’s boss revealed that prop Kyle Amor who, admittedly had had little pre-season to prepare, awarded himself a mark of just two out of 10 in their weekly self-assessment process. There will have been others similarly embarrassed.
It was so far removed from the characterful displays Wakefield fans had grown accustomed to and Lauitiiti conceded: “It was a bad performance.
“It all comes down to attitude, we know that. We have pin-pointed what happened and all we’ve been talking about this week is attitude and wanting to play.
“The bottom line is they ran harder and tackled harder than us. We weren’t prepared to work for each other.”
The reality is unless they change that quickly tonight the result will be just the same.
Visitors Hull KR endured their own problems at home to Catalan last week but no where near to the scale of their West Yorkshire rivals.
Craig Sandercock’s men trailed 26-2 early in the second period but showed some spirit to recover and eventually only lost 32-24.
Lauitiiti, 33, admitted: “They’re a strong team with a strong pack and they’re going to be physical.
“Hopefully we’ll turn up with the right attitude so we can counter-act their threats.
“It was never going to be something which was swept under the carpet what happened here.
“We had to face the problems and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve worked on attitude and trying to get that right with a few tweaks here and there.
“Looking back on Sunday, we’ve got heaps to improve but the lads have responded well in training,” he added.
Wakefield will also be better served by the return of talismanic prop Andy Raleigh, such a trusted front-row who epitomised their renaissance last season and has now recovered from a rib injury.
Having sneaked into eighth with seven consecutive wins in 2012, however, Lauitiiti accepts they can ill-afford to lose to many points against sides like Bradford and Hull KR who will surely be challenging them for that final play-off spot come September.
Lauitiiti, who revealed he hopes to represent Samoa again at the World Cup here this autumn, believes Trinity have the wherewithal to achieve their principle aim.
“It’s going to be a tough season but we just need to play well and as a team to show, not only ourselves and our fans, but the Super League, that we’re to be recognised,” he said.
“It wasn’t a great start but the boys are looking forward to proving everyone wrong.
“We’re going to turn up week in, week out now on with the right attitude and that’s how we’ll get points.
“We can’t afford to not do that otherwise we’ll get busted and get 40 points on us again.
“Every year there’s an improvement in Super League and there’s new personnel coming in.
“It’s going to be harder this season, so we’ve got to work harder.
“Last year was a good achievement but that was last year.”
Wakefield’s best chances of success lie with getting the ball in Lauitiiti’s hands – but first must come some that requisite steel.