James Webster says play-off ambitions have not been discussed among the Wildcats squad despite sitting just two points outside the top eight with five games remaining.
A run of just one defeat in seven games since the former assistant coach took the top job secured the main priority of First Utility Super League survival and has got supporters hoping for another late surge into the top eight.
Webster admits that there is no talk within the camp of a play-off spot and that his priority is preparing for 2015 over making the play-offs, a tough run-in including Sunday’s clash with the Giants, a trip to St. Helens and the visit of two teams also chasing the play-offs in Salford Red Devils and Hull KR means it will be no easy feat.
The Australian says the priority of the group continues to be fulfilling their potential, wherever that may take them come the end of 2014.
“While we want to fulfil our potential as much as we can and play-offs would be fantastic, if we can’t get there then so be it,” said a philosophical Webster.
“There’s no pressure on us anymore but we did set a goal when I took over that we wanted to fulfil our potential and wherever that lands us, it didn’t bother us. Just when we finished our 12 weeks together it was ‘did we give everything we had?’
“We could still finish twelfth with the way the competition is. There’s been no talks of play-offs within our camp. We just want to try and win this game, we think we can win it. Everyone’s smart enough that if we don’t win then we don’t have to worry about the play-offs, so that’s what we’re focused on.
“If play-offs are a big goal for the club then it’s a big game. To me, next year is probably of a higher priority than this year. I don’t want to degrade the play-off system or anyone who turns up for us each week, but this year was all about surviving and trying to build for next year. The top eight next year is such a big thing for the structure of the competition so we won’t play anyone who’s busted for the rest of the year, play-offs or not.”
Although Webster insisted there is no play-off talk within the camp, it was the hot topic at his weekly press conference as fans and pundits alike relish a five-game shootout between Widnes, Hull KR, the Wildcats and Salford Red Devils.
Trinity face both the Robins and Salford at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium before the season’s out having lost to both earlier in the campaign.
But with games running out and little room for error, Webster is not looking beyond this weekend’s visit of Huddersfield Giants and says any chance of a play-off berth will be quashed with defeat on Sunday afternoon and he believes the Giants are on the verge of hitting top form.
“Mathematically we’ve a chance (of the play-offs) but we’d need to win this week. With Hull KR playing Widnes on the weekend it would be too hard for us if we lost. We’d need to win four out of four and hope someone lost so we need to win this week if a play-off is possible.
“It’s an extremely tight competition, especially in those top six teams. You could probably say there’s a couple of competitions within one competition with the way teams have fallen this year. We’re a chance of winning this week. Not many people gave us a chance of winning at Warrington. Huddersfield are a strong fast team and we need to play really well to win.
“They (Huddersfield) have got a couple of gears in them. Someone’s going to run into Huddersfield when they’ve got some good form in them. With the players and the depth of their squad they’re going to put someone away big time. They’re beating teams at the moment and look like they’re doing it reasonably comfortably at the moment.
“We’re preparing for Huddersfield’s best game. It’s easier to coach when you’re playing a big, strong team because everyone knows that if they don’t turn up then they’re going to put us away. We’re prepared so we’ll just go out and do our best.”
You can hear more from Webster on the Wildcats Audioboo channel by clicking HERE.