Wakefield Trinity boss Chris Chester feels his side can be top-four challengers next season – and he says rival coaches agree.
They will confirm fifth place for a second successive year if they beat Warrington Wolves in their final Super 8s game tonight.
Even if they lose, they could still secure it if nearest challengers Huddersfield Giants also fall in Perpignan tomorrow.
Asked if there is a belief Wakefield can make that next step into the top-four in 2019, Chester replied: “I genuinely do believe there is. There’s a belief amid the coaches, the group but also belief among the opposition.
“You speak to opposition coaches and they say we are a tough team to beat.
“They probably wouldn’t have said that about Wakefield three or four years ago. It’s nice to be spoken about in positive ways and hopefully we can get it done Friday and enjoy our time off.
“Finishing fifth also means £75,000 prize money compared to £50,000 so we can spend a little more on the salary cap too.”
Warrington finished just above Wakefield in fourth and have a Super League semi-final at St Helens to look forward to.
They responded after the disappointment of the Challenge Cup final defeat to Catalans Dragons with a big win over Hull FC and then beat Huddersfield to confirm fourth before falling to Wigan and St Helens.
Chester said: “The way they bounced back is credit to Steve Price and their coaching staff. I’ve been involved in a Challenge Cup final losing team (with Hull KR) in 2015 and that was my toughest ever week afterwards trying to get the players up.
“We actually played Wakefield at Craven Park. It’s been a challenging and tough time for Warrington but they have another trophy to go for now with the Grand Final.”
St Helens duo Ben Barba and James Roby along with Wigan Warriors’ John Bateman have been shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel.
Castleford Tigers’ half-back Jake Trueman, Leeds Rhinos full-back Jack Walker and Saints’ prop Matty Lees are in the running for the Super League Young Player of the Year.