Wakefield full-back Richard Mathers wants to continue the momentum for the 2013 season when the Wildcats travel to face St. Helens tomorrow.
Richard Agar’s men visit Langtree Park this Sunday, Kick-off 3pm to face Saints in Jon Wilkin’s testimonial. Trinity go into the penultimate pre-season fixture fresh from beating Featherstone 38-10 at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium and are set to field another strong team in the final trial game against top flight opposition.
Mathers has played in both fixtures so far in pre-season and scored a try against Leeds on Boxing Day, he is eager to face Saints.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s our final chance against Super League opposition to do the fine-tuning before the season starts. We will be putting out our strongest 17 available and as all friendly games you are looking to improve and build on from Boxing Day to last Sunday and this is our last chance to improve before round one.”
Mathers looks set to be joined by two forwards who have not featured since the play-off defeat by the Rhinos in September. Frankie Mariano and Andy Raleigh are expected to play some part on Sunday and the former Super League winner is delighted to have them back.
“We have needed to boost our stock in that sense and it’s just been one of those things with the post season surgeries it is something you have to battle. The main thing for us is that they are all fit and ready for the battle for round one.
“For the lads that will be making their first appearances this week it will be good to get their first game time under their belts. We need these guys back to full fitness, especially in the forwards and once we have a consistent pack with the size we will be firing off all cylinders.
“The weather has been tough, if we could have shifted our camp in Portugal to this week it would have been ideal but it’s something you have to factor in. You have to be prepared for this because we are in England and its January.
“We’ve made the best out of a bad situation, this week we’ve used the 3G facilities at Kirkstall as well as Crofton so we’ve actually been out on a surface with the ball in our hands. It’s not ideal running around in minus four temperatures but we have made the best of it.”
Despite the excellent fitness workout the game will provide for both clubs the fixture will also celebrate a testimonial for St. Helens and England forward Wilkin. Mathers explains he has known the back-rower for a long time.
“I have played alongside Jon since we were under 13s, we played in the Yorkshire side and all the England academy sides growing up. He’s been a great servant to the game and won pretty much everything and done it in the right manner.
“I think he’s a great ambassador for our game with a brilliant image and speaks well on behalf of the players in all sorts of areas. The asset he is off the field he is massively deserving of a testimonial.
“He didn’t have to go out and put the players union together and recruit the people. It’s what we need, you look at all other major sports and they have a strong players union.
“There are massive issues that the players need a say on whether it be change of the balls without player consultation, salary cap or marketing of the game. I believe players have a big say in things like that. You have to thank Jon’s efforts in getting this ‘1eague3’ together. It won’t come to fruition until we’ve retired and we’re gone because it’s fundamental for the game.
“Hopefully we can take as many fans as we can across there because it’s a big occasion for ourselves in terms of our preparation as well as appreciating a player of Jon’s standing.”
With two weeks until Super League gets underway for 2013 Mathers admits it has come around very quickly.
“When we started on the 5th November it seems a million miles away but the reality of it is that it comes around quick. That’s why preparation needs to be spot on because you don’t get too long.
“According to the staff all the players are running above where we were last year and that’s enabled us to do a lot more rugby related stuff rather than getting the boys into decent physical shape for the rigours of Super League so we have spent more time on the rugby side of things.”
If you are concerned about the game taking place follow the Wildcats twitter account @WTWildcatsRL for updates over the weekend. As it stands Saints are confident the game will go ahead and any updates will be posted on Twitter.
Tickets are available to purchase from Langtree Park, adults £20 while juniors and concessions will be charged £10.
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