JUST four games into the season, questions about relegation are beginning to grate with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ upbeat coach Richard Agar.
Wakefield had a troubled off-season, which began with a financial crisis leading to the departure of several star players and culminated in visa delays trapping some of their key recruits in Australia until just days before the campaign began.
Since then the Belle Vue club have had mixed fortunes, losing creditably at big-spending Salford Red Devils and poorly against Bradford Bulls, before a depleted team took an inevitable beating at Wigan Warriors.
But last week, with their recruits beginning to find their feet, Wildcats thrashed Catalan Dragons 56-14 to break their duck and a win away to London Broncos this afternoon would move them four points clear of the relegation zone.
The start of the season has seen Wakefield involved in three matches described, even at this early stage, as relegation four-pointers and Agar is keen to see his side put an end to that sort of talk.
He said: “I am getting asked that every single week and all we can do to push these questions away is try to improve our performances and chalk up some more wins.
“Then maybe these questions will get aimed in other directions.
“We found after week one we didn’t get asked them for week two. Then all of a sudden, the way we played in week two, we got them for the next three weeks.”
Agar accepted: “This is a really important game for us and when everybody was doing their predictions at the start of the year they will have marked games between us and London as must-win games.
“We have come off the back of a good win, a shot in the arm for us, but we think we will probably get a tougher challenge this week.
“We think we are going to get a more committed and spirited side – and that is not being disrespectful to Catalan, but we have just got to keep improving ourselves week-in and week-out.
“I think the boys are genuinely excited by the kind of team we feel we can become.
“There was a bit of doom and gloom after the performance we had against Bradford, but all of a sudden we have got Jarrod Sammut and Nick Scruton in the team and blokes like Taulima Tautai are in terrific form.
“Everybody’s getting to know each other a bit better and we have got more players on the training park, which is reflected by the quality of practice getting a bit better.
“We are starting to understand what is going to make us a good team and we are confident we can get there. The season isn’t going to be decided in rounds three, four and five – it will be decided over a lot longer period than this.”
London – who will field several players who were offered to Wakefield over the winter, including half-back Josh Drinkwater – have lost all four fixtures so far, but with their recent signings settling in they are showing signs of improvement and Agar stressed he expects nothing other than a tight game today.
“We’ve had a good look at every game they’ve played this year,” said Agar. “They have got a lot of young guys looking for an opportunity and a chance, they are full of enthusiasm and we’ve seen parts of their game improve every week. We’ve stressed that to our boys. We know we are going to be in a decent contest.”
Wildcats have been training on the local Queen Elizabeth Grammar School pitch which has similar dimensions to London’s small field at The Hive, which they share with Barnet FC.
Agar said: “That has made a slight difference to how we are going to approach the game.
“A lot of our build-up has been about attitude. We have got to match, if not beat, their attitude.”
Centre Dean Collis will return for Wakefield today after completing a two-game suspension and forward Scott Anderson is in contention following injury.
Half-back Harry Siejka, who arrived from Australia earlier in the week, has been named in the travelling squad, but Agar said he is likely to have to wait before being handed his debut. Forward Danny Washbrook has been ruled out due to a slight calf tear.