The Wildcats have further strengthened their squad for Super League XVII with the addition of Richard Mathers on a season-long loan from rivals Castleford Tigers.
An England international, World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup winner, Mathers will spend the whole of 2012 at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium with the loan deal including no option for the Tigers to recall him whilst the full-back will be available to face the Tigers during the season.
A product of the Leeds Rhinos Academy, Mathers was twice a Grand Final winner at that level with the Rhinos before making the step-up to first grade action in 2002.
In 2004 he was a member of the Grand Final winning squad and was named the Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star whilst 2005 saw the Milford Marlins amateur score a try in the 2005 World Club Challenge victory over Canterbury Bulldogs.
The NRL came calling in 2007 and a season with Gold Coast Titans was followed by a return to Super League with Wigan Warriors.
After a spell at the DW Stadium he signed for Warrington Wolves, scoring a try at Wembley in the 2009 Challenge Cup victory over Huddersfield Giants.
The impending arrival of Brett Hodgson at the Halliwell Jones Stadium saw the 28-year old head back to West Yorkshire in search of first team rugby at the Tigers and it is that desire to play week-in, week-out that has seen Mathers take up the opportunity to join the exciting new era at the Wildcats.
The timing of the loan deal being completed means he will travel with the squad to north Wales for a three-day camp this weekend, and he says the timing of that is ideal for getting to know the group.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better really,” said Mathers, who completed the loan deal at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium this morning.
“It’s a whole new squad as we all know. The boys have been back eight or nine weeks now so it’ll be good to get down to Wales, make a few friends and get into the structures that Richard has spoken about.
“When you’re away for three days in each other’s pockets it naturally creates a bond and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mathers joins the Wildcats at the start of one of the most eagerly anticipated campaigns in many years, but admits it will take time for the new squad to come together on the field.
“I think it’s understandable that people are getting excited with the quality that has been signed and Richard and the coaching staff are new as well.
“I think expectation will be quite high to start with but I think realistically, although we’ll be doing everything we can to meet those expectations, I think it’s going to take time and it’s something that will grow over the course of the season and the pre-season friendlies will help massively.”
After playing at two of the Wildcats fiercest local rivals, Mathers knows he may have a bit of work to do to win round some of the supporters he will now be playing in front of on a weekly basis.
“I haven’t got the best history have I, having played for both Leeds and Castleford!” he joked.
“But I’d like to think when I’ve got the Wakefield shirt on I’ll be doing my job which is giving everything in what I do on and off the field.
“I’ll have to earn their respect like every player but it’s exciting times and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
“Richie will bring a number of qualities to our club,” said Wildcats Head Coach, Richard Agar.
“He’s highly respected by his peers and he’s been a winner throughout his career.
“He’ll set a great example as we try and establish our own standards and cultures within the club.
“He’s a first class professional on and off the field and we’re really happy to have him here.
“Obviously he fills a specialist position for us and we very much view him coming here as a senior player.”
Mathers could be in line to make his Wildcats debut in the Heatshot Festive Challenge against Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day, with tickets on sale now from either of the Wildcats retail outlets.
The full-back is also available for sponsorship in 2012 and any businesses interested should contact Commercial Manager, Martin Hopkins on 01924 211611 and select option 2.
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