Confidence high at Wakefield
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats are feeling invincible as they eye an unlikely spot in the First Utility Super League play-offs, according to prop forward Nick Scruton.
The Wildcats have pulled clear of the relegation zone thanks to a four-match unbeaten run under new head coach James Webster and victory over Widnes Vikings at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium tomorrow night would take them to within two points of their eighth-placed opponents.
Wakefield's scalps have included Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors and Scruton, who today signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Wakefield until the end of 2016, admits confidence under Webster is sky high.
"To be honest, we can't see a loss coming," said Scruton. "We're that confident at the minute.
"Everyone is playing well and we're really scrapping for each other. I'm pretty sure he (Webster) knows we'll get beat at some point but everyone is buzzing off each other and it's a pretty good place to be at the minute.
"We're only four points off Widnes and six off Catalan so if we get the win on Thursday it puts us two points behind.
"We need people above us to lose but we've got all these teams around us to play so if we can pick up some wins there the top eight is a big possibility."
History is firmly on the side of the Wildcats going into their fifth successive home game.
They have won their last seven meetings with Widnes going back to 2005 and triumphed 24-18 at the Select Security Stadium two months ago.
After being in the top four in the early part of the season, the Vikings are in danger of dropping out of the top eight after gaining just one win from their last seven matches but Webster, who had a spell at Widnes in their pre-Super League era, is not taking anything for granted against old club.
"This is an important game for us," Webster said. "We've been lucky in that we've won all five games we've played against Widnes since I've been at Wakefield but all those games have been nip and tuck and they could have gone the other way.
"I wouldn't say they're on the slide, it's just that they started the season so well. They're a good team, a good physical team, and they've got some strike in (Kevin) Brown and (Rhys) Hanbury especially.
"We're not going to under-estimate them. We think they're a decent team and they're four points ahead of us. We're expecting a really tight game."
Widnes assistant coach Mick Cassidy concedes his side will be the underdogs as they look to get their campaign back on track.
"I don't think we have beaten Wakefield since our return to Super League so maybe we are going into it as underdogs and the pressure is certainly off us and on them to win this game," Cassidy said.
"They're playing really well, they're playing some good rugby and they have got some really good players who are hitting some good form so we are just going out there to compete.
"We know we can score tries but previously our defence has lost us games and that's one thing we've worked on this week."
The Vikings have former Wigan centre Stef Marsh back from injury while the loss of half-back Pita Godinet and forward Daniel Smith with knee injuries has been offset by the return to fitness of former New Zealand Test second rower Ali Lauitiiti.
The former Leeds favourite, who turns 35 on Sunday, has been out since April with a knee injury that threatened to end his season and possibly his career but is poised to make his comeback after spending hours on heat acclimation technology at Sheffield Hallam University to fast-track his return.
"We're down to the bare bones but it's great to have Ali back," Webster said. "He's a massive player for us. He worked really hard to get back to where he is now.
"Any team that has got Ali in it is going to be a better side."