WITH two years in their ranks before moving to Belle Vue, Wakefield Trinity prop Anthony England fully knows just what beleagured Warrington Wolves are truly capable of.
Granted, last season’s League Leaders, who reached the Challenge Cup final and Grand Final in 2016, may be strangely at odds with themselves this time around given their current battle in the bottom four.
However, while many wonder what has gone wrong for Tony Smith’s star-studded side, England is more wary with how quickly they can put things right.
His side host them in a crucial game this evening; Wakefield require a win to keep their top-four bid alive while the ninth-placed visitors are in dire need of points to avoid the ignominy and jeopardy of the Middle Eights.
“They are still a team with a lot of strike,” said England, Warrington having beaten NRL side Brisbane Broncos in the World Club Series earlier this season and boasting England stars like Daryl Clark, Stefan Ratchford and Chris Hill.
“They have good players across the board and we aren’t going into it with any complacency.
“We want to get into the top-four, that’s a big focus.
“It is a big game. Obviously we are coming off the back of a few losses and we need to start putting things right.
“All the boys want to do a job on Saturday, but we’re not far off; a few little tweaks here and there and we’ll be back to winning ways.”
Trinity had won seven games on the bounce before losing 18-16 at home to Leeds Rhinos and then suffering a crushing 30-6 Challenge Cup quarter-final exit at Salford Red Devils.
That was followed by a 40-18 loss at Hull FC last Friday, although Chris Chester’s side did lead approaching the hour mark before a calamitous final quarter.
“We should have won the game,” insisted England, now in his second campaign with the West Yorkshire club.
“All credit to Hull, who never gave in, but we let in a couple of sloppy tries which was not really characteristic of Wakefield.
“We had a bit of a rollicking in our review and, hopefully, this week we can right a few wrongs and come away with the win.”
If they do prosper this evening, they will draw level on points with fourth-placed Salford for 24 hours at least – their rivals host Huddersfield Giants tomorrow – and with just three more regular rounds to go before the split.
Wakefield, cruelly, lost at Warrington 22-20 in April after a 78th-minute try from former Hull FC winger Tom Lineham.
Trinity had led 20-6 at one point and, therefore, are fully aware of the damage they can inflict when on their game.
Clearly, though, it is a matter of doing it for 80 minutes.
England, who plied his trade with home-town Dewsbury Rams and Featherstone Rovers before getting his Super League chance with Warrington at the age of 27, is unsure why Wakefield have fallen away recently.
“There’s not one thing I can put my finger on,” he said, although injuries to key players like captain Danny Kirmond, Australian prop David Fifita and playmaker Jacob Miller have not helped.
“It has been quite an exhausting season but that’s the same for all teams especially with the double weekends.
“I think that has taken quite a lot out of a few sides, but, hopefully, we can start getting back to our best now.”
Chester will be keen they do and that their Challenge Cup disappointment does not cost them dearly as it did last year.
After being denied a place at Wembley when badly losing 56-12 against Warrington in the semi-finals, their form tailed off alarmingly.
Chester believes this squad is made of sterner stuff and they have suggested as much but the reckoning is now upon them.
On-loan forward Dean Hadley returns after being ineligible to face his parent club last week.
Mikey Sio and Jordan Crowther are in contention for a call-up and Reece Lyne is set for his 100th club appearance but James Batchelor drops out after picking up an injury at Hull.
Warrington could give a debut to Peta Hiku, the Kiwi international centre who has joined from Penrith Panthers.
Ratchford is available after suspension but England colleague Joe Westerman misses out due to a hip injury.