Wildcats head coach, Richard Agar, says there is no better stage to show a response to last week’s hammering at Hull KR than a Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie against Leeds Rhinos.
The Wildcats endured a torrid afternoon in East Hull last weekend, second in all areas of the game in going down to Hull KR at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
Attentions now turn to the start of the Challenge Cup campaign and dreams of a Wembley appearance fill the minds of fans and players alike. The Wildcats have one of the toughest draws of the round as they face a Leeds side who have been in outstanding form early on in Super League. Agar is demanding a much improved attitude from his players and is hopeful of upsetting the odds and progressing to the next round.
“We’ve spoken about it (the defeat to Hull KR) early in the week and it’s important for us to find out some reasons as to why it happened,” said Agar. “There’s perhaps one or two things in there that you could look at – we had two or three blokes that didn’t train until team run and another four that didn’t train until the last session prior to that.
“We asked a lot of questions to them in the week about our preparation, both collectively and individually. A general feeling was that a few of the guys said they still felt the after effect of the Saints game. Whether that’s a valid reason, an excuse or part of a number of reasons, we’ll see this week.
“I’m very mindful that we can’t accept those sorts of performances but from time to time it will happen to most teams in the competition at some stage this year. We’ve got to limit the amount of times it happens to us. The important thing is to have a look at it, try and take as many measures as we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again and look for the right response. It would be a great time to get a response and the response is going to come in our attitude.
“I watched a game last week where one team turned up with some vigour, attitude and ready to play and the other didn’t. They just played tougher than we did. We’re playing Leeds this week and we have got to compete in every play. They’re a team that has got so much threat and they’re a team that can attack from anywhere and everywhere. We’ve got to compete on every single play.”
Trinity undoubtedly go into the game as underdogs this Sunday (kick-off: 2pm) but with a quintet of all Super League ties in the fourth round, many are plotting a route to the latter stages of the competition if they can successfully negotiate a trick opening fixture.
Whilst Agar admitted Super League survival is the number one priority in 2014, he is also confident that his squad have what it takes to go on a Cup run that he hopes will conclude at Wembley in August.
“Is there any team in Super League that doesn’t think they can go on a run and win the Challenge Cup? The draw already has five all Super League fixtures in it, that’s going to put five teams out straightaway. You get this one and you can find yourselves on a nice run to a semi-final quite easily. Once you get to a semi-final it’s on the day and it’s anybody’s.
“Still in rugby league it’s the most famous competition and the prize at the end of it is massive. It’s once in a lifetime if you’re lucky for the fans, the club and the individuals. I’ve been involved before and there’s no occasion like it. We want to give it our best shot. We’ve got an extremely tough draw but our games against Leeds, particularly at home, have been really tough games over the last two years. We feel if we get our performance right on the day we can turn anyone over.”
Agar is under no illusions of the size of the task in hand against Brian McDermott’s men who are looking to end a much talked about drought in the Challenge Cup, a trophy that has eluded Leeds’ golden generation who have won Super League titles and World Club Challenges.
The Wildcats boss rates the current Leeds squad as the best in the competition but after some keenly fought contests over the last couple of seasons, he expects the Rhinos will not be looking forward to coming to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
“Leeds have got to more finals over the last five years than any other team in Super League and there’s a reason for that. You look at the squad and for me they’ve got the best squad in the competition. The speed they’ve got, the threat they’ve got, physically they’re in outstanding shape and some terrific leaders and game changers who have got that experience.
“We know the size of the challenge but we think it’s a fixture they might not be looking forward to. We’ve had some terrific battles over the last couple of years but whoever Leeds played in this round, barring the exception of maybe one or two teams, they’d start as favourites.
“We’ve got to challenge them in every single play and facet of the game. We’ve got to make life difficult for them and put them in places where they feel uncomfortable.”
Tickets for the game remain on sale priced at £20 for adults and £12 for juniors/concessions. Ticket prices will increase by £2 on the day of the game for adults. You can buy in the Ridings Centre Store but please note that the Stadium Box Office is not open on Saturday’s.