Written by: Tom Benthall
Matty Ashurst has praised the support of the Wildcats’ fans ahead of this Sunday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup clash with Toulouse Olympique XIII.
Having beaten Sheffield Eagles in the previous round at Belle Vue, the Wildcats were drawn to face the French side at home again in round six, and the back-rower has said the fans’ backing in recent weeks means home advantage is even more prevalent as the side look to put together a cup run.
“It’s always pleasing to get a home draw in the cup, especially as recently the fans have really turned out and got behind us which has been really good so a home draw’s massive for us,” he stated.
“I think it was nearly at capacity against Hull and recently the crowd’s really got behind us and it gives us a big lift when we’re playing at home.
“Obviously it’d be good to get a cup run, hopefully we can carry on from where we started in the first round and obviously Chezzy’s (Chris Chester) reached the final last year with Hull KR so it’d be awesome for the boys if we could replicate that.”
The Wildcats go into the game on the back of six wins in their last seven games; however the successful run has come at a cost, with Ash Gibson joining fellow centres Reece Lyne and Joe Arundel on the injury list following the win over Widnes.
Having suffered several injuries last season, which saw him feature in just 11 of the side’s 33 games throughout the campaign, Ashurst is glad to be back to full fitness this year, but knows the importance of having strength in depth within the squad.
“I had a bit of a bad run last year with injuries, it was probably my worst year, so it’s been good to get on the field playing consistently which is what I’m wanting to do and hopefully I can carry on doing that.
“Obviously we’ve got a few injuries so it’s important to have guys who can come in and cover and I think we have got that.
“I think especially now Super League’s a test of the full squad, it’s a tough competition so you’re always going to get injuries and I think we’ve got enough guys who can come in and do the job.
“When the squad is fully fit competition is always good too, it keeps people on their toes, you know you’ve got to be at your best or someone’s going to get your shirt and it’s really healthy for the squad.”
With Warrington and Catalans the Wildcats’ next two games following the cup fixture, Ashurst knows how crucial the next few weeks could be for the club’s season, but insists complacency will not be a factor against Toulouse.
“They’ve shown what they can do, they beat Leigh who are a good side and obviously they’ve got players who can play so we’re not taking it differently to any other game, we want to put on our best performance and win the game,” he said.
“To maintain a place in the top eight you have to be beating the top teams and obviously that’s what we want to do.
“We’ve put a decent run together and we don’t want to rest on that now, we want to keep going and hopefully these next few games will be a good test of where we’re at and hopefully we can come through it.”