When Wakefield Trinity Wildcats walk out at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium tomorrow afternoon in Super League there will be no prouder man than Danny Kirmond.
For the former Featherstone Rovers and Huddersfield Giants player has been handed the honour of club captain at his hometown club.
It comes after impressing head coach Richard Agar when 26-year-old Kirmond took charge with Australian Steve Southern on the sidelines. A 32-26 Magic Weekend win over fierce rivals Castleford Tigers at the Etihad Stadium was followed up last weekend with a 24-6 victory over London Broncos – Kirmond was amongst the scorers that day – and Agar had seen enough to make the change.
Southern, named as a replacement in the last few weeks as he returns from injury, steps down to concentrate on rediscovering his form, while Richard Mathers steps up as vice-captain.
A former amateur player at local club Stanley Rangers, Kirmond admits he is honoured to be confirmed as captain of his hometown team, starting with tomorrow’s visit of Hull FC.
“It is something I am really proud of and it’s a massive honour to captain your home-town club,” he said.
“It is not something that I have really looked at doing before but being given the opportunity is a huge accolade for myself.
“I’ve never been a captain elsewhere and when I came here I was the vice-captain which I feel helped myself out on the field and helped me push just that little bit harder.
“As soon as the opportunity came up to step up to the next level it really was something I wanted to grab hold of with both hands,” said Kirmond, Featherstone’s leading try scorer in 2007 before his switch to Huddersfield.
While the public announcement of Kirmond’s promotion makes his job official, Trinity fans have got used to seeing the Wildcats No 17 take charge on the field during the last few weeks.
Wakefield coach Agar believes relieving 30-year-old Southern of the extra duties will help the former Newcastle Knights forward after he struggled to make an impact with his new side.
“It is the way we have been rolling for a while and it’s not something we have made a massive issue of by putting it out there in the press,” said Agar.
“Danny Kirmond had been captaining the side when Steve Southern got injured.
“Steve spent four to five weeks on the sidelines and has since started a number of games on the bench this year so we just felt internally, having spoken to Steve, that he was happy in relinquishing the role and concentrating on his own game and fitness.
“He was not having the sort of impact as captain that we thought he might have done and that was probably due to injuries and we want to get the most out of him as an individual and as a player.
“That is something we changed a couple of weeks ago but nobody picked up on it but we now feel the time is right to tell everyone.”
“Danny was our vice-captain and we feel he has really grown into the role.
“At the start of the year, he was given the opportunity to captain due to Steve’s injury and it coincided with a real upspurt in form for him and I think his stature within the group during that time has grown.
“He took on the responsibility and the mantle of being captain extremely well and we think it has had an extremely positive impact on his game and a big impact on the group in terms of his leadership.
“We have rubber-stamped it and made it permanent until the end of this year while we have also promoted Richard Mathers up to vice-captain and he has already captained us once this year. He is another influential member of our group and we made that permanent, too.
“We will still assess the captaincy at the end of the year. We have just transferred the captaincy to somebody who will be on the pitch more often. It is not a huge issue for us I think it is a terrific accolade for Danny being a local lad.
“He is a Sharlston boy so this is very much his home time club, I know his family will be very proud of him,” added Agar.
Wakefield target a third successive win in Super League tomorrow afternoon, and Kiwi centre Vince Mellars believes they are starting to run into form.
“Playing Hull is certainly a good opportunity for us and we are flowing with confidence after the last two weeks so we feel we can get the win,” said Mellars, who has scored twice since returning to the starting 13.
“We just need to keep focusing on what we are good at and making sure we can play to our maximum in each half and not switch off like we have done in the past.
“We were rapped about getting the back-to-back victories. It has been our goal for some time to get a string of results together and it goes to show what we can do so we need to kick on from here.”
“I’ve had a bit of a dry spell this year in terms of tries but after scoring that try last week I just got on the back off some great work by Ali Lauitiiti. I didn’t quite realise the magnitude of the local community up here until I moved here and speaking to people about how much Wakefield means to them, it was totally different at Crusaders.”
Agar has included 18-year-old academy second-row Lucas Walshaw in his 19-man-squad for tomorrow’s game.
Frankie Mariano misses out for Walshaw, who made his season debut in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium.