MATHERS BACKS PACK TO RISE TO SAINTS CHALLENGE

posted on 21 March 2014

Richard Mathers has backed the Wildcats pack to rise to the challenge of facing the in-form St. Helens forwards on Sunday afternoon.

Richard Mathers believes the Wildcats pack can stand up to the challenge presented by St. Helens.

The unbeaten Saints have seen off all before them in the opening five rounds of the First Utility Super League, marshalled by Luke Walsh on the back of the work done by the likes of former Wildcat Kyle Amor and Alex Walmsley to name just two.

Although Walmsley is out of Sunday’s game and Nathan Brown will be without Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook (suspension) the forward pack that will wear the famous red ‘V’ on Sunday will still include the likes of the giant Mose Masoe and will provide a stern test for Scott Anderson and co.

But it’s a test that Mathers believes the Trinity pack are more than capable of standing up to having laid the foundations for emphatic victories in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s a great test,” said Mathers of the game as a whole.

“We’ve had a couple of decent wins but for me they’ve been the form team of the competition.  Nathan Brown’s recruited purposely a big pack and on the back of that, like Saints have always done, they’ve steamrolled teams and played that expansive rugby.  It’s a big job for our pack this weekend but the great thing is that in my time here, I don’t think we’ve had as much competition for places or size in the pack as we’ve got here now.

“Everyone’s pretty much fit so everyone’s vying for a spot, particularly in the pack and Rich has got some really good choices.  It’s not a position we’ve been blessed in in the pack so I think it’s going to be really good those two packs coming together.

“I’m not going to lie, if you take out that calibre of player from any side I think it’s probably an ideal time to play them.  But they’re a club that has been established for such a long time because they’ve got a squad that they can rely on to replace those players.  It’s probably a good opportunity to get them on Sunday where they’ve got their main half-back down, they’re missing a couple of big front-rowers.  It helps but it’s still not going to be an easy game.

“The big focus for us is working hard in defence and matching the packs up front which we’ve got with the size we’ve got.  I don’t care who we play, whether it’s top of the league or bottom of the league, we’ll score points if we get an equal share of the ball.”

Mathers profited from the forward dominance in the capital last weekend to cross for four tries, the first hat-trick of a senior career that has seen plenty of highlights including a Challenge Cup victory.

He was also part of the Trinity squad that embarked on a late run to the play-offs in 2012 with a seven-game winning streak that included an incredible drop-goal victory over the Saints at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.

That year saw an up and down first half of the campaign followed by that incredible run following Magic Weekend and Mathers sees similarities already from that year to this, believing Trinity still have plenty of improvement in them despite scoring over 100 points in the last two games.

“It was nice to get over for the four tries,” said the full-back of his landmark moment.

“It’s the second week running where we’ve scored over 50 points and I think it shows that we can attack really well and have got a lot of threat.  Personally, the four tries were on the back of all the good work mainly by the pack at the start of the first half.

“We’re still in a pre-season phase and covering things we’d normally cover in the first or second week in November.  The fact that we’ve posted 50 points in consecutive weekends shows that we’ve got a lot of strike in both halves of the field.  It’s just getting used to that certain system of how we play.

“We’re a work in progress but we were in 2012.  I don’t think you’re going to see the best of us until the second half of the season.  In saying that, I think in practice this week has been our best week.  Before that, last week was our best week.  If we can keep going like that and showing that improvement then I think the second half of the season can be exciting for us.”

You can listen to the full interview with Mathers including his views on the Tetley’s Challenge Cup draw on our Audioboo channel by clicking HERE.

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