LAST SEASON PLACING – 12TH

Following Boxing Day’s 50-28 trial game defeat to Leeds Rhinos, Wakefield coach James Webster said that his team need to improve more than any other in Super League. The Wildcats finished in 12th place last season, with only relegated Bradford and London below them in the table. Webster will be hoping that his new look squad can prove the doubters wrong and that Wakefield can mount a serious challenge for the top 8. Webster, the youngest coach in Super League at 35, will be hoping that the returning Tim Smith, who has signed a permanent deal with the club, can recapture the form that won him 2012 Wildcats player of the year award, before he was sold to Salford to ease financial difficulties at the club. The squad is full of players who have something to prove in Super League, but that sort of siege mentality could see Wakefield upset a few teams this year, although it would be a surprise to see them break into the top 8 by the end of the season.

KEY PLAYERS

Tim Smith was in remarkable form at Belle Vue before his move to Salford. The scrum-half’s performances will be crucial for Wakey this season, as he is the ‘go-to’ man in the squad. The Wildcats snapped up Jacob Miller from Hull FC, too, and have given him the number 6 jersey. The 22 year-old only managed 24 appearances for the Black and Whites, but will have a much more prominent role with Wakefield in 2015. Pita Godinet showed some great form last season, and offers more creativity. Club captain Danny Kirmond, whose season was disrupted by injuries last year, has undergone a knee and two finger operations in the winter. The back-rower, who was named in the 2013 Dream team, is definitely a massive player for the club. Lopini Paea and Mikael Simon have joined from Catalan, and Craig Hall is the new full-back, all three should provide much needed Super League nouse.

DRAWBACKS

The biggest miss for Wakefield in 2015 will be Taulima Tautai, with the big Samoan joining Wigan Warriors for 2015. He was the club’s top meter maker and top offloader last season, and the Wildcats’ forward line does look poorer without him. Wakefield have one of the smaller squads in the division too, and could struggle if key players pick up injuries.

STORY OF 2015

Nobody is realistically expecting much from James Webster’s side, which could work in their favour. Last season they beat the likes of Wigan, Leeds and Catalan at home as well as Warrington away, so they won’t be overawed against the big boys of the league. The likes of Lopini Paea and Mikael Simon will help boost an ageing forward line, and the signing of experienced Craig Hall at full-back looks pretty good. However, question marks remain over Jacob Miller and whether Tim Smith can recapture his best form, they also look a little light on the flanks, too. All in all, it could be a difficult season ahead for Wakefield, but they have proven us wrong before.

PREDICTIONS:

LADDER – WILL MISS THE TOP 8

TOP TRY SCORER – CHRIS RILEY

TOP POINT SCORER – CRAIG HALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR – DANNY KIRMOND