BRIAN SMITH hopes young Australian half-back Jacob Miller can continue his renaissance for Wakefield Trinity tomorrow and prove a long-term hit for the West Yorkshire club.
Much maligned at Hull FC, the 22-year-old also had an indifferent start with Wildcats this season but has blossomed since fellow countryman Smith arrived in the UK last month.
Taking on more responsibility, Miller has demonstrated some of the form that saw him represent Australian Schoolboys before joining Wests Tigers in the NRL.
He will face Warrington tomorrow – coached by Smith’s younger brother Tony – and his boss said: “He has done a good job in difficult circumstances.
“He has been a real stand-out for us in the period of time I have been here. He scored a brilliant try (in the win) against Hull and his goal kicking has been important for us. One feature of his game has been his defence, which has been outstanding.
“He saved two tries against Hull last week and held Gareth Ellis up over the line, which is a real mis-match in terms of size. He has a big future and I am very keen for that to be at Wakefield.”
Bottom-placed Wakefield were vanquished 80-0 by Warrington earlier in the season when James Webster was in charge, illustrating the size of the problems Smith has inherited.
But they have made a number of signings to bolster their squad recently and got their first league win at the 17th attempt versus Hull before losing narrowly to the same opponents on Sunday.
Smith said: “Warrington are the sort of team that has a real attacking mentality.
“They can put a lot of points on any team when they are in the groove, but I have to say (Wakefield’s) defence that day was not at its best!
“We’ve had improvements but I still don’t know how good this team can be.
“It is a team game. It is very hard for me to assess what we can do until I see us get the best team we have available playing with some confidence.
“Wakefield has struggled with injuries all season, but I hope we are going to have a good run from here on in and we can get back to making (selection) choices, rather than having to make it fit.”
Scott Anderson, Chris Annakin, Craig Hall, Kevin Locke, Nick Scruton, Tim Smith and Danny Washbrook are all back in contention for tomorrow, with Max Jowitt, Tom Johnstone, Jordan Crowther, Ali Lauitiiti and Daniel Smith dropping out from the team beaten by Hull.