Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have axed four key players on the eve of one of the biggest games in the club’s history due to off-field issues.
Full-back Kevin Locke, centre Reece Lyne and half-back Tim Smith have all been left out of Wildcats’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s game following a police incident in Brough, East Yorkshire, last Sunday.
Smith was arrested and has been charged with driving without due care and attention and with failing to provide a specimen for analysis.
The 30-year-old Australian has been bailed to appear before East Yorkshire Magistrates Court later this month.
Locke, who joined Wakefield in mid-season after a fall-out with Salford, and Lyne are both thought to have been involved in the incident.
Prop Scott Anderson has also been left out of the squad to face Halifax.
His omission also relates to a disciplinary matter, but it is understood he was not involved in the incident in Brough.
Wakefield chairman Michael Carter, who took the unusual step of attending Smith’s weekly press conference at Belle Vue yesterday, said: “The investigation is ongoing.
“Hopefully, it will come to a conclusion by early next week.”
In Smith’s re-shuffled line-up, Tom Johnstone is brought in on the wing in place of Lee Smith, who switches to Locke’s full-back spot, Pita Godinet partners Jacob Miller at half-back and Joe Arundel is a straight replacement for Lyne.
Smith is confident the enforced changes will not have a detrimental effect ahead of a match crucial to the club’s hopes of avoiding relegation.
“There have been a couple of things that have happened that require the club to deal with so those players have not been selected for this game,” he said.
“It’s been a distraction for the people who are involved in it, but not so much for me or the players. We’ve had a couple of good sessions.
“We obviously need to build some combinations, but in the course of a season for almost all of those players we’ve been working on those combinations at various times.”
Asked if he felt let down by the players at a crucial time of the season, Smith said: “I’m more excited about this game.”
Ex-Hull FC scrum-half Jacob Miller, 23, has signed a new two year deal with Wakefield, the Australian having scored 15 tries in 26 games so far for the club during his debut season.