Kear's men eye top six after wake-up call
The question at Wakefield this afternoon is how they and their opponents, St Helens, will react to their contrasting fortunes in last weekend's Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Wakefield's dream of going back to Wembley for the first time in almost 30 years was eclipsed by Hull, but they still have a chance of making the top six of Super League and the play-offs at the end of the season.
They will have to make their bid without their recent Australian signing, Matt Petersen. The winger, who was successfully targeted by Hull's kickers in the semi-final, has rib cartilage damage and will be out of action for a month.
Despite last week's defeat, John Kear is unlikely to recall Jamie Rooney, who was controversially left out of the 17 against Hull. Kear says that was a decision based on form and tactics, but the stand-off is also still suffering from the after-effects of a virus.
Qualifying for Wembley can have a more distracting effect than missing out, although few expect that to be the case for the well-oiled St Helens machine.
With 16 wins in a row, they have their captain, Paul Sculthorpe, back today after missing the semi-final with a leg injury. Sean Long is rested and the 19-year-old forward Jacob Emmitt is in line to make his debut.
If Castleford hope to end their first season back in Super League without the wooden spoon, they need to beat their nearest rivals, Huddersfield, this afternoon.
There are four points between the sides, both of whom could give a debut to a late-season import. Mitchell Sargent is in the Tigers squad, while David Faiumu is trying to show that he is sufficiently match-fit to make his bow for the Giants. Huddersfield should have Eorl Crabtree back after a four-match absence.
Harlequins have a convincing look about them with the return of four players from suspension and Julien Rinaldi and Danny Orr from injury. Their opponents, Bradford, will be without Paul Deacon for the rest of the season and could lose Chris Nero to a shoulder injury. They have a part-time player, Richard Johnson, in line to make his debut.
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