THE chances of Wakefield Trinity ending their losing run in Perpignan are admittedly slim given Catalans Dragons’ home record, but back-row Danny Washbrook says “improvement” at least is imperative.
The French side have lost just one of their 11 games at Stade Gilbert Brutus, against Leeds Rhinos in March, so rock-bottom Trinity know how tough it will be to arrest a 15-match losing sequence in Super League.
However, there was clear signs of progress in Sunday’s 24-16 defeat to Salford Red Devils, the first game since astute Australian head coach Brian Smith took charge, especially in terms of their defensive fortitude.
Washbrook said: “He’s done a lot of work on us sticking in the tackle. He is big on that and the contest; every play is a contest to Brian.
“He uses a phrase about the pitch behind us being our land and they – the opponents – are trying to take it off us. You have to do all that you can to stop that.
“He is big on it and we did defend better, but he’s worked on more things this week, too, to try help us where he can.”
Taking ‘land’ from Catalans will be arduous given Laurent Frayssinous’s side have beaten St Helens, Wigan Warriors and, a week ago, in-form Hull FC in a run of five wins from six outings.
Washbrook, 29, said: “They are a very good team with a lot of good skills in there. They are a big, physical team, very good at home and it will be difficult.
“Elliott Whitehead and Zeb Taia are two of the best, not just back-rows but players in Super League.
“Both are big, strong boys and very skilful who bring a lot to their team so it will be an interesting battle for myself – if I’m one of those in the back-row – and the rest.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for us all but we’ve been there plenty of times before and showed we can match teams. It’s just doing it for a full game.”
Smith is without forward Dan Smith (rib) and hooker Stuart Howarth (wrist) after they were injured versus Salford and there is a major doubt over captain Danny Kirmond (shoulder).
But three-quarters Reece Lyne and Richie Owen are both set to return from injury and Washbrook – who is linked with a move back to home-town club Hull FC in 2016 – added: “He’ll take the team that he thinks can do the job. He said he wants players who will go out there and give their all and not hold anything back.
“We’ll go do the best we can and try get that win.
“We did a lot better than in previous weeks against Salford and it was an improvement which is what Brian wants from us – improvement every week.
“That’s the aim again come Saturday. If we could have scored near the end last week we’d have had Salford rattled.
“But, to be fair to them, every chance they had they took down our end and we have got to learn from that too when we’re in France.”
Catalans will give a debut to centre Krisnan Inu following his arrival from Stade Francais while prop Jeff Lima returns after completing a four-match suspension.