By Adam Leah
Danny Kirmond believes the nerve-wracking experience of playing in the Million Pound Game last season will motivate him and his Wakefield teammates to improve in 2016.
The Wildcats finished 4th in the Middle 8s and as a result faced 5th placed Bradford in the inaugural Million Pound Game for a place in Super League this season.
Kirmond led his team to a 24-16 victory but with the threat of the club having to go part-time and players losing their jobs if they had lost, the Wakefield captain admits it was a very tense time for the club.
“The million pound game isn’t where we want to be,” Kirmond told NothingButLeague.
“The excitement it created was great for the game and the spectators but as a player it was a nerve-wracking experience. If we’d have lost our contracts would have been voided and it was a very tense time.
“After the game it was a huge relief. I felt sorry for the Bradford guys but at the same time it was a huge relief for us to stay in Super League.”
Despite winning their opening two games in 2015, Wakefield went on to record just one further victory and finished the regular rounds bottom of the table.
Brian Smith took over from James Webster as head coach midway through last season and Kirmond says he is relishing the opportunity to work under the experienced Australian coach.
“He keeps you on your toes,” said the Wakefield skipper.
“He gets the best out of his players all the time and is challenging you to do better.
“As you get older and coming into your 30s sometimes you feel neglected and forgotten about and often the coaches overlook you and don’t expect you to improve too much but Brian is always challenging me and helping me improve my game.”
Wakefield get their 2016 campaign underway at home to Widnes on Sunday and Kirmond claims there is an excitement around the club which he hasn’t felt for a while.
“I’m excited for the start of the season like I haven’t felt for a number of years.
“We’ve added a great blend of youth and experience into the team and there’s a great sense of camaraderie in the squad this year.
“We believe we’ve got a great squad and are confident we can do really well. The top-eight is a realistic ambition but first of all it’s to improve on last year and not be involved in that million pound game.”
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