WAKEFIELD Trinity captain Danny Kirmond believes his squad are “refreshed” and ready to make a mark in the Super 8s.
The West Yorkshire club suffered the disappointment of missing out on a top-four place after the regular season following a poor 41-16 home defeat to St Helens last time out.
However, they remain only four points adrift of second-placed Leeds Rhinos heading into the next stage of the campaign so they still remain well-set to push on for a semi-final place.
Furthermore, while top-four rivals Leeds, Salford Red Devils, Hull FC and Wigan Warriors were all in Challenge Cup semi-final action at the weekend, Trinity were returning from some time off, invigorated and geared up to push on in the crucial next phase of the season.
They start with a game at Rick Stone’s eighth-placed Huddersfield Giants on Friday and second-row Kirmond realises their destiny is very much in their own hands.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post last night, he said: “We’ve put ourselves in a really good position and, though it was a bit of a setback not finishing top-four, looking at it now we know we’re in a good place to push on.
We can’t rely on anyone else at this stage of the season. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and if we start looking at other sides and relying on other results that’s probably when we’d take our eye off the ball.Wakefield Trinity captain, Danny Kirmond
“If we can get a couple of wins in the first three rounds we realise that so it’s important we start well against Huddersfield.
“But we also know that everyone else will be thinking the same. Wigan and Saints are playing really well and picking up points, Huddersfield are fighting for a spot so we know the teams below are really chasing, too.”
Alternatively, second-placed Leeds and fourth-placed Salford – whose semi-final defeat to Wigan yesterday meant they have won just two of their last nine games – may struggle to get over the heartache of missing out on Wembley which could encourage Wakefield further.
But Kirmond, 31, warned: “You can look at it both ways as you could also say they only have one thing to now focus on – Super League.
“We can’t rely on anyone else at this stage of the season. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and if we start looking at other sides and relying on other results that’s probably when we’d take our eye off the ball.
“We have to concentrate on what we do as, if we’re honest, we let ourselves down in that last match against Saints.”
Wakefield knew even if they lost but by 14 points or fewer in that game, they would secure fourth place so it was painful to see them fall in one of their most tepid displays of the year. That said, it did mark Kirmond’s return from injury, a major plus for Chris Chester’s side.
“It’s great to be back,” he said, having played only 15 games so far this term.
“It was really frustrating being out. It was great to see everyone doing so well and the team going well but, at the same time, you want to be out there.
“I’ve not really enjoyed this season because of that but I’m looking forward to getting some games under my belt now at the business end of the season.
“That first game back went well personally and I came through it fine. It was meant to be six to eight weeks post-op but I think I was back just after four.
“I felt really good in the game itself and I have done since.”
Wakefield had made the most of almost a fortnight between the games with many players having a rare mid-season break.
Kirmond continued: “We’ve had a few days off to relax and get away from things. It’s a long season already and it’s been a good opportunity to get away and freshen up your mind rather than body as such.
“It’s been a stressful time coming into the Eights. A few of us who haven’t played many games did carry on training but the rest had that break and then all came in Saturday looking refreshed ready to go again.”
Next opponents Huddersfield only have an outside chance of making the Super League semi-finals given they are already five points adrift of Salford.
But Kirmond, who joined Giants from hometown Featherstone Rovers in 2008 before moving onto Belle Vue four years later, is wary of his former club.
“In this last six to eight weeks they have played some really good stuff,” he said.
“We know it will be tough against them. We’ve had two close matches already, losing 24-16 there in February and then beating them 28-26 at our place.”