Ambitious Koukash impresses Wakefield star Smith

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AS Wakefield Trinity Wildcats seek to finally get the win their recent efforts warrant, centre Lee Smith admits he is all in favour of the man at the helm of next opponents Salford City Reds.

Although Wakefield have been irked after losing narrowly against leaders Huddersfield Giants and squandering a substantial lead in Perpignan last Saturday, their problems pale into insignificance compared to tomorrow’s visitors.

Salford had a 38-4 home defeat inflicted on them by bottom-placed London Broncos last week, a meek surrender that saw charismatic new owner Dr Marwan Koukash lose patience with head coach Phil Veivers who was subsequently axed.

They have picked up just one win in their last 12 outings stretching back to last July, though the majority in the sport still feel Veivers was harshly treated given the way his hands were tied for much of that period when the club was financially crippled and on the verge of administration.

However, multi-millionaire racehorse owner Koukash took over on the eve of this season and, understandably, has his own plans in mind. They are certainly bold.

“I haven’t paid much attention to what’s been going on there,” said ex-England three-quarter Smith.

“The only thing I did notice was seeing the chairman’s bid for Sam Tomkins which I thought was a bit out there. And then this week he said that the salary cap should be whatever too.

“He wants to go out and buy and I’m all for that.

“As a player, I’d have hated to see Salford go under and they’ve got this guy now who looks like he’s really going to pump some money in and turn them into a real competitive side, which is good.

“Hopefully they can get back and start pushing up there.

“I don’t really know what’s happening with the coach. I know Tim Sheens has been mentioned – the Australia boss – so he’s going to the top again there.

“Hopefully they can get him, bring a load of players in and get competing for the eight.”

Which is where, of course, Trinity have their own sights firmly set.

After snatching the last play-off spot last season, Richard Agar’s side have shown plenty of promise again in 2013 with wins over Hull KR and London so far.

They realise there could have been more – Smith had a ‘try’ ruled out for a forward pass in the final seconds which would have given them victory over Huddersfield in their last home outing while the 29-22 loss against Catalan Dragons in France a week ago was perhaps even more galling.

“We have been unlucky over the last couple of weeks and we’re looking forward to getting back on our own patch and putting it right,” added Smith.

“We definitely take plenty of positives from what happened. We probably see both opponents as top five or six teams, we took them right to the wire and possibly should have won them both.

“The Huddersfield one, the decision just didn’t go our way. Whether it was forward or not I don’t really know. But we were 16-0 up at Catalan and definitely shouldn’t be getting beaten from there,” added
 Smith.

“You’ve got to learn from that and now we need to learn to kill the game off when we get to that stage.”

Smith, 26, realises there will be added pressure on his own performance tomorrow.

Reece Lyne, the young signing from Hull FC, impressed at centre at the start of the season, grabbing his chance in the opening three games while Smith was recovering from a thumb injury.

He then endured his own setback, though, suffering pectoral damage that coincided with Smith’s return to fitness.

However, Lyne is available once more and in the 19-man squad for tomorrow’s game.

“It’s going to be good (competition),” added the ex-Leeds Rhinos star. “Reece did really well and if he hadn’t have done his pec I’d have probably been struggling to get a spot.

“But that’s the way it goes. I was lucky enough to get back in and it’s my shirt to lose now or to keep.

“I’ve been steady away. I haven’t been at my best but you don’t expect to be the first couple of games of your season.

“But hopefully now I can pick up some form and start playing well and we can hopefully get that win.”

Wakefield are without prop Andy Raleigh who suffered knee ligament damage in France but Oliver Wilkes comes in.

Salford’s head of youth development Alan Hunte, the ex-St Helens and Great Britain winger who started out his playing career at hometown Wakefield, takes temporary charge of the visitors.

He has made changes with youngsters Niall Evalds, Gareth Owen and Theo Fages all recalled while prop Lee Jewitt returns from suspension along with England Knights winger Jodie Broughton who missed the London debacle after being stuck in an M62 traffic jam.

Ex-Trinity forward Stuart Howarth, Danny Williams and former Castleford Tigers star Ryan McGoldrick make way.

dave.craven@ypn.co.uk

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