Wildcats boss Richard Agar says this weekends trip to Hull KR has added significance given the Super League standings of the two clubs.
Rovers sit one place and one point ahead of Trinity in ninth place, with St. Helens occupying the final play-off place a further point better off, whilst Bradford Bulls and Hull FC lie three points ahead of the Wildcats having played a game more.
With still an entire half of the season left to play, the top eight is still a long way from being decided and a defeat for either side on Sunday would far from spell the end of their ambitions of making the play-offs.
However, Agar says the comparative league placings of the sides gives the game added importance.
“There’s probably similarities to when we went and played Widnes the other week and were sat a place behind them, and it gave us an opportunity to jump over them,” he said in this week’s pre-match press conference.
“There’s still a long way to go but you’d have to say that Hull KR, along with Bradford and a couple of teams below us, are the ones that want to be fighting it out for those spots come the end of the season.
“In the context of it, it puts a little bit more importance on the game. They’ve been patchy if you like but have had some terrific wins at home. They’ve knocked Saints off twice, beat Warrington at home but they’ve had some disruption as well.
“They’ve not been able to field a consistent line-up for a number of weeks. It’s got the makings of an important game in terms of league standings and who wants to push on and challenge.”
It’s a second visit to East Yorkshire in just over a week for the Wildcats after bowing out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup to an impressive Hull FC last time out. That night the Wildcats were without senior players Justin Poore and Richard Mathers, but the latter looks certain to return to the fold for the first time since early April after overcoming a foot injury.
Paul Sykes (knee) is still a minimum of two weeks away from being in contention to make a return to the side, but with the prospective boost of both Mathers and Poore returning combined with the Wildcats overall form in the past month, Agar is confident his side are capable of emerging from MS3 Craven Park with the result they want.
“Mathers is definitely back in,” confirmed Agar. “(Justin) Poorey has got to do a little bit more with us to see whether he plays or not but we’re happy with the progress both players have made during the course of this week. It’ll be good to get them back.
“Last week, in what was a tighter game then I thought the scoreboard showed, I did think we missed the experience of Justin, Paul (Sykes) and Richie in that game. To hopefully get two of them back for a tough tie, in a place that is always difficult to go in that the atmosphere the home fans create makes it a place that if you’re not on your guard can be difficult.
“Our league form has been okay now for a month. I’d say that even though we went down last Friday, I still thought there were some very good areas of our game. We feel that we can go there in the right frame of mind and ready for the challenge that’s in front of us.”
Earlier this week the Wildcats extended the contract of Andy Raleigh, the experienced prop committing his future to the club until the end of 2014 as Agar looks to main a consistency within his squad.
He hopes to be more news of extended deals for further players in the coming weeks.
“Hopefully we’ll have some news soon on that (new contracts). We’ve been looking at the people that are out of contract and, in some cases, the people that have got time left but looking at extending them.
“We do feel we’ve got a core of a team that can help us travel forward, not just this year but next year and possibly beyond that as well. So we’re very much trying to keep that together and keep moving forward.”
Agar’s full pre-match press conference where he also gives his views on the proposed Super League restructuring is available on our SoundCloud account by clicking HERE.
Due to the amount of car park passes sold for the 2013 season, there will no longer be the facility for supporters to pay to park on the main stadium car park on the day of a game.
Car parking is available at St Richards School, Archbishop Sentamu Academy and the former Annandale School which is located behind the KMS East Stand at MS3 Craven Park.
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