Wakefield Trinity boss Mark Applegarth discusses resurgence, relegation picture and selection ahead of Huddersfield Giants trip

Only six weeks ago, Wakefield Trinity looked destined for the Championship after slumping to a 14th straight defeat at Magic Weekend.

The manner of the 30-4 loss to 12-man Leigh Leopards coupled with a surprise win for Castleford Tigers against Leeds Rhinos appeared to signal the end of Wakefield's long stay in the top flight.

But Trinity – part of Super League's furniture since 1999 – have come back from the brink before and are threatening to do it again.

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Such is the extent of the turnaround, Mark Applegarth's side have the opportunity to wipe out the six-point deficit that stood at Magic Weekend when they travel to Huddersfield Giants.

A fourth win in five games would have been beyond the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic Wakefield fan in the aftermath of an abject defeat in Newcastle but the supporters now sense another great escape.

As Trinity prepare to be backed by their biggest away following in six years at the John Smith's Stadium, Applegarth has put his side's recent resurgence down to unity, perseverance and a shrinking casualty list.

“As that losing streak goes on, pressure grows inside people's heads and they go into their shell,” he said.

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“It's a test of character. In terms of what has changed, we have got some quality bodies back and there has been a lot of hard work put in.

Wakefield celebrate the win over Wigan with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)Wakefield celebrate the win over Wigan with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
Wakefield celebrate the win over Wigan with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

“One thing I’ve said previously is everyone has turned up every day ready to train and they’ve not hidden away from it.

“We’ve worked hard on staying together and not trying to blame anyone else. Sometimes you’ve got to look in the mirror and shoulder a bit of responsibility, whether that’s me as head coach, off-field staff or players.

“We have been working really hard on that and thankfully it has started to show on the field – but we have got to carry on and keep building that momentum.”

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Castleford have held the upper hand in the relegation battle from the early stages of the campaign but are looking nervously over their shoulder after seeing their advantage reduced to just two points.

Mark Applegarth is calling for calm. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)Mark Applegarth is calling for calm. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)
Mark Applegarth is calling for calm. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)

A win at Huddersfield would pile more pressure on the Tigers ahead of their trip to Hull FC on Saturday but the prospect of achieving parity with eight games to go has not even crossed Applegarth's mind.

“We are still bottom of the league with a lot of work to do," he said.

“We're not even looking at them. We are just focusing on us and what we need to achieve.

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“I am sure when you speak to Lasty (Andy Last) he will say exactly the same. We have to make sure we take care of our end of business.

Wakefield are bidding for a third straight win. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)Wakefield are bidding for a third straight win. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)
Wakefield are bidding for a third straight win. (Photo: Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com)

“We know what we need to do and what standard we need to achieve. We are just going on that and making sure we do what we need to do."

Wakefield's revival would not have gone unnoticed by Huddersfield as they grappled with their own form before easing some of the pressure with a second win in 10 games at Catalans Dragons.

Applegarth is not putting any extra significance on tonight's game against the third-bottom Giants.

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"I haven't really looked too much around us," he stressed. "I've just been looking at us because all that matters is that our own standards are where we need them to be.

"I thought Huddersfield were outstanding against Catalans and played some real good stuff.

"At the start of the year, anyone would have tipped Huddersfield to compete for honours. They've got a real strong squad with a lot of depth.

Mason Lino is back in contention. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Mason Lino is back in contention. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Mason Lino is back in contention. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"You're never going to write a team like that off but in saying that, we're confident that if we put our best foot forward, we can cause them a few issues as well."

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Fresh from welcoming back Jai Whitbread, Samisoni Langi and Kevin Proctor in last week's thrilling victory over Wigan Warriors, Applegarth can call on half-back Mason Lino for the first time since Magic Weekend.

The Trinity boss has hinted he will keep faith with the bulk of the team that saw off Wigan in golden point.

"You'd rather have tough calls to make than not have those calls to make at all," said Applegarth.

"I've got no dramas with picking the team even if we have depth. It's really easy – you pick on performance and who is training well throughout the week.

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"Nobody can rest on their laurels when you do get bodies back. It drives up the standards and the competition for places.

"I'll stay true to my word: if people are doing the business on the field and in training behind the scenes, we'll pick them on that."

Wakefield have been the most active club in the transfer market this season, continuing their recruitment drive with the signing of Josh Griffin earlier this week.

Applegarth has not ruled out further additions to his squad before the August 4 transfer deadline.

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“Never say never but we are quite content unless we get some mad injuries which have been happening throughout this year,” said Applegarth, who confirmed that French trialists Romain Franco and Hugo Salabio have signed deals until the end of the season.

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