Agar wary of frustrated Bulls
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Saturday 25 February 2012
Wakefield and Bradford have shown such contradictory form at this early stage of the season that they will both be looking for their true selves when they meet at Belle Vue this evening.
The Bulls have been a particular puzzle, with a good win at Castleford sandwiched between heavy home defeats by the Catalan Dragons and Wigan.
"They have got some very proud players in the team and people who are prepared to lead from the front," said the Wildcats' coach, Richard Agar. "They will be looking to turn their season around and will see this as a great opportunity to do so."
That theory was echoed by the Wakefield centre, Dean Collis, one of a dozen new players in the process of bedding into the team.
He and his team-mates have watched the DVD of Bradford's 54-16 defeat by Wigan last Sunday and, far from making them complacent, they have taken it as a warning.
"They're going to have a massive point to prove and they're probably a bit embarrassed about it."
The Bulls have to start proving that point without Luke Gale, the close-season signing from London who was supposed to fix up their kicking game. He damaged ankle ligaments in the Wigan game, whilst James Donaldson will be out for six months with a serious knee injury.
Wakefield had the last weekend off, because of Leeds' commitments in the World Club Challenge, but they have already shown both sides of their personality.
On the opening day of the season, they were, especially for a completely re-built team, impressively cohesive against Widnes; far less so against Hull KR the following week.
The Bulls' coach, Mick Potter, will be expecting the effective version at Belle Vue tonight, because he believes they have expanded their repertoire under the coaching of Agar.
"They are playing with a lot of width and moving the ball around," Potter said. "That makes it tough for the opposition. Tim Smith guides the team around the park well. He has a good kicking game and comes up with the right plays for them." Agar makes just one change in his squad, with Motu Tony likely to start on the bench in place of Frankie Marinaro.
Work has begun to build roofs over two sides of Belle Vue, so that it will meet Super League criteria, even if their proposed new ground at Newmarket is not built by 2014. Wakefield were granted a licence for the next three years on condition that they have a new stadium or significant improvements to their present one.
Tomorrow, there will be a minute's applause before Castleford's home game against Wigan, in memory of Robbie Millward, the 19-year-old son of their coach, who died suddenly on Sunday. Their assistant coach, Stuart Donlan, has prepared the team for the match, in the absence of Ian Millward, who is on compassionate leave.
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