The first week of the new Super League season concludes on Sunday afternoon when the final two teams to kick their campaign off do so when Wakefield Trinity take on fellow Yorkshire outfit Hull FC at the Be Well Support Stadium.
These two sides both failed to make the play-offs last season and so they will both look to turn their fortunes around this term. This isn’t going to be a defining match in that regard but a good start would still be very welcome. Unfortunately this match is not going to be televised.
When you consider the progress that Wakefield Trinity were making prior to the pandemic, they will be disappointed by how last term unravelled. It should be said that Covid did them no help and then they picked up other injuries which impacted them, but I think as a whole Trinity will know it wasn’t good enough from them last term. The positive they can take from the campaign was once they had made their coaching change they did finish well under Willie Poching.
Most judges will be expecting Trinity to struggle this season but they have recruited some solid Super League experienced imports and if they can gel and hit the ground running then there is no reason why Wakefield will need to be looking over their shoulder this term. Whether they can find the consistency to get among the top six is doubtful but they can use the underdog tag to their advantage and give a few bruises to the big boys.
Last season was one which promised so much in the initial half of it but once they lost in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup things unravelled incredibly quickly and they ended the campaign in terrible form. Brett Hodgson will know he has a decent rebuild job on his hands and you only need to see the amount of turnover in terms of players to see that he has recognised that. The job now is to prove they are a better squad now than they were at the end of last term but there are initial doubts over that.
The fortunes of Hull FC were not helped by injuries the longer last season went on but they concluded the campaign with one win in their last 10 matches and that was a solitary point victory against Hull KR so they will have needed a real transition in their mentality in pre-season. You wonder how long Hull FC will put up with what is going on if they get off to a slow start to this campaign so they are probably under a good deal of pressure going into this match.
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Wakefield Trinity could give debuts to five of their new signings with Tom Lineham, Liam Hood, Thomas Minns, Corey Hall and Lee Gaskell all a part of their 21-man squad for this game. Bill Tupou misses out with injury though.
Hull FC are going to be without a whole host of players including Scott Taylor, Josh Bowden, Manu Ma’u and Joe Cator but Jake Connor has been named in the squad. Kane Evans is suspended but Luke Gale and Darnell McIntosh are set for debuts.
I think over the course of the campaign Hull FC will be the better of these two sides but there is no getting away from the mite they are missing in the pack for this match and that offers Wakefield Trinity a great chance to get their season off to a winning start. Some of the backs Trinity have recruited in the off season catch the eye and with a decent half-back pairing already in place and some pep in their pack they should approach this match strongly.
The preparation for this match has been clouded by the injury to Jake Connor and while he is in the Hull FC squad for the contest you have to wonder if he is actually in line to feature or not. I always think that Wakefield are a better side when Tom Johnstone is in it and they look much the more settled outfit of the two going into this game and at odds against they are an acceptable price to pick up where they left off last term and open up with a win.
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