LINCOLN Withers is probably not the greatest player to ask about assessing Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ strengths and weaknesses.
The last time his Hull KR side faced them, the Australian hooker was knocked out in the first tackle and later found himself in A&E having 18 stitches administered to a gaping wound that had splintered his forehead.
That was only the second game of the season in February when Rovers lost 36-20 and Withers recalled: “Ah, the big knock.
“That was inside 10 seconds and I had a couple of weeks off because of it.
“I can’t remember much about that. I got stretchered into the dressing room and was kind of wondering why they just didn’t stitch me up and send me back out.
“But then I saw the cut afterwards and it was a bit more than I originally thought.
“That’s footy, though. It doesn’t look the greatest and I’ve got a nice scar there now but I get a fair few of those tackling in the middle anyway and it’s just part of the game. It was all accidental.”
Much like his Rovers team, Withers has endured a frustrating campaign ever since.
Just as he was about to return from that head injury he was sidelined by a broken toe and, then, after coming back against Leeds on April 20, missed the next game due to yet another injury.
He played against Wigan Warriors on Sunday, however, and is hoping to make an impact when Rovers reconvene with Wakefield once more tomorrow.
“I’m just trying to put some games back-to-back to try and get my body right again,” said the 32-year-old. “I’ve had my head, then a real funny one with my toe and stuff you just can’t help. But I feel good now and it’s a big game for us against Wakefield.
“We need to get back on the horse after losing to Wigan and start winning again.”
The 46-14 Challenge Cup exit against the Warriors came following three successive Super League defeats and under-pressure Craig Sandercock’s side now lie ninth, marginally ahead of Wildcats.
However, they proved with an incredibly abrasive and feisty defensive showing in the first half versus leaders Wigan that they can trouble the best sides around.
The visitors were trailing 4-0 until Sam Tomkins struck in the 34th minute and turned the contest.
“They’re a hard team to defend as they have so many quick people so we had to get up in Wigan’s faces,” explained the former Crusaders player. “We probably shocked them with our tactics in that first half but it’s hard to play that game for 80 minutes and we couldn’t keep it up.
“Penalties and unforced errors let them back in and we couldn’t get back out of it.
“We needed to keep the ball better as, when we did, we produced some really good stuff. That has to be the key versus Wakefield.”