When it emerged Wakefield Trinity Wildcats chairman Michael Carter had put his own house up for security against the club debts, it rammed home how crucial avoiding relegation is.
It is no surprise, then, that Richard Mathers – the club’s experienced full-back – realises how important it is for struggling Trinity to start winning some games.
Seeking to avoid a fifth successive loss, there would be no better time than against West Yorkshire derby rivals Castleford Tigers at Belle Vue this afternoon.
Wakefield have won just twice all year so this Easter period offers a vital opportunity to revive.
“It’s massive and not just this block of games,” Mathers told The Yorkshire Post. “Every single game is a big one now. That is what they (the RFL) wanted – no game being a dead rubber – and everyone is fighting for their life.
“We started behind the eight ball as we didn’t all come together until January.
“We are a work in progress but the reality is that at the end of the day two teams are getting relegated. I certainly don’t want to be any part of that and I know the boys here don’t either.
“The people off the field – directors and chairman – have worked too hard for that to happen.
“I don’t think people realise how much of their own money they have put in – to the state where they have actually put their houses on the line.
“We have to get everything clicking to get some wins on the board. We’re more than capable.”
Of course, Wakefield could be dragged into the mire if Bradford Bulls are successful in their appeal to claim back some – possibly all – of the six points deducted for entering administration.
It clearly does not sit well with Trinity, who sold a raft of their best players to stave off the very same threat last August.
Mathers, 30, said: “If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d be expecting Wakey to appeal, too.
“But it’s a hard position. When you see what’s happened here, with the heart and soul ripped out of the club, having to sell players to avoid going into administration when we’d been building for two years and reached the play-offs, it is tough to see.
“It also now emerges we were selling players as we were told we’d be kicked out of Super League as well so it’s hard to know Bradford may get some points back. It may set a precedent.”
Indeed, there is likely to be significant ramifications if an independent panel do rule in Bradford’s favour but, for now, all Wakefield can do is make sure they perform to ensure they are not in danger come the end.
Yet Castleford are currently a formidable opponent, sitting third under Daryl Powell, having cruelly been denied victory over leaders St Helens a week ago.
Mathers, who represented them superbly in 2011 before strangely being ostracised by previous coach Ian Millward, said: “Cas have taken some big scalps and arguably they should have won against Saints.
“I’ve a lot of time for Daryl Powell. I had a long relationship with him as he was my academy coach at Leeds and he also gave me my first-team debut there.
“I also became really good friends with (assistant) Danny Orr when I was at Cas and knew they’d do a good job.
“It was always going to be tough coming in mid-season last year given the mess it had been left in but they steadied the ship and now they are really going well.
“It’s a really big game. I’ve seen it from both sides and, until you’ve played in this match, you really don’t realise how much it means to both clubs. It’s been a rough few weeks for us but this is a chance to right a few wrongs.”
Wakefield have conceded a 146 points and scored only 18 in their last three matches. Mathers was left out of last week’s 42-6 Super League defeat at Leeds and also the loss at Hull KR, with coach Richard Agar moving stand-off Jarrod Sammut to full-back to try adding a new dimension.
However, Mathers returns today and said: “I fully understood Rich’s reasoning – though I might not have agreed – and am thankful he was honest with me.
“He thought what he was doing was for the best of the team and making it more balanced – it wasn’t about my form – so, once that first disappointment has gone, you have to take your selfish head off and accept that.
“A few people have missed out recently as Rich tries to get the right balance but, hopefully, I can go well against Cas.”