WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats head coach Brian Smith admits there is much to admire in derby rivals Castleford Tigers.
The sides lock horns tomorrow at Wheldon Road with both clubs looking for their first win of the new Super League season.
While Trinity finished bottom last term, improved Castleford again challenged, finishing fifth and they vanquished their neighbours 32-6 in a friendly game at the end of last month.
“I saw Cas play some really exciting footy last year,” said Smith.
“I like the brand of rugby they play, but I think we might give them a bit more of a run than we have in the recent past.
“Certainly in the pre-season game they gave us a bit of a spanking and I would hope we will get a lot closer to them this weekend.”
Trinity fell 24-16 at home to Widnes Vikings in their opener –Tigers drew at Hull KR – but with so many new players on board Smith feels they may still take some time to gel.
“We’ve got a new half-back, young hookers who are trying to establish themselves, a new full-back and other new players,” said the Australian.
“We have got a whole new feel about us, we should get better as the season goes on and I am confident we will.
“I would be really happy if we hit our stride this weekend and didn’t stop all the way through the season, but we’ve got to be realistic.”
Smith will select from last week’s 17, plus Ashley Gibson –one of four former Castleford players in their squad – and Jason Walton.
Another ex-Tiger Richard Owen makes his return from the second badly broken leg of his career in the reserves game against Dewsbury Rams today when French forward Mickael Simon also stages a comeback.
Castleford are without injured captain Michael Shenton and Ryan Boyle, their places taken in the 19-man squad by Nathan Massey and Andy Lynch who are both set to feature.
On-loan Wigan Warriors half-back Ryan Hampshire and young prop Will Maher are both jostling for call-ups, too.
Meanwhile, Wakefield have been fined £20,000 by the RFL, half suspended until the end of this season, over racist chanting by a section of their fans during last August’s home win over Bradford Bulls.