Wakefield skipper Danny Kirmond may be sidelined with injury at the moment, but that has not dimmed his enthusiasm for his club’s campaign in the Qualifiers.
Trinity have been Super League‘s whipping boys this season, and ended the first phase of the season anchored at the bottom of the table.
But, heading into the Qualifiers, the ‘middle eight’ section of the competition, Kirmond is keen for his team to show their true quality.
He is also delighted that Championship clubs will get the chance to show their skills on Sky Sports television.
“There’s a great buzz around the competition as a whole, and I think it’s great that these teams coming up from the Championship are going to get a chance to showcase what they’re worth as well,” he told Love Rugby League.
“I’ve played in the Championship before, and it’s a great competition.
“It’s about time they’ve got a chance to go up as well, and put what they’ve got to show on Sky.
“I think the majority of the players are full-time now anyway.
“So it’s not like an old-fashioned Challenge Cup game where you’re playing against a part-time team who have been working all week.
“These teams are probably running on similar budgets to us, they train for a similar amount of times to us.
“We’re not under any illusions as to how difficult it’s going to be.
“We’ve played against Halifax and Leigh already in the Challenge Cup, we know how difficult they are.
“They’ve got players with Super League experience, who are probably looking to prove a point as well, which always gets a little bit extra out of your game.
“So we know it’s going to be difficult, we know that every game really matters in these middle 8s, and we’re fully prepared for all of that.”
One team with whom Wakefield will have to tangle is Leigh, who they face away from home on August 22.
“A lot of people when it comes to that game will probably be predicting Leigh to beat us,” Kirmond mused.
“That doesn’t really bother us. We know that they’re a good team with some really good individuals.
“But, equally so, we’re a good team deserving of our Super League place.
“Obviously, it’s been a difficult season for us and we’ve not performed as a Super League team all year until the last few weeks.
“Now we know that we’ve turned things around, and we go into the Qualifiers with a great deal of confidence, knowing that we can achieve our goals.”
Kirmond had surgery on a shoulder injury in recent weeks, and could be out for around another 10 weeks.
Although he is looking to speed up the recovery process and take part in at least some of the Qualifiers, he admits to feeling frustrated at his situation.
“It is really frustrating,” he said.
“Not just because of how important these games coming up are, but how the mood and everything else is at the club at the moment.
“It’s really changed since Brian Smith came in. It’s a different feeling at the club.
“Training’s been really good as well, so it is really frustrating to being sat on the sidelines seeing the boys really ripping in for each other.
“Ultimately, playing is where you try and impress people most,” he said.
“I’m still being just as professional off the field, being around the boys and trying to keep everyone’s spirits up.
“I’m trying to impress him that way at the moment, but ultimately you want to be out there playing and ripping in – that’s how you can show what you’re worth.
“It is frustrating not being able to do that at the moment.”
Kirmond also remains saddened by the departure of Brian Smith’s predecessor as coach at Trinity, James Webster, despite the new mood of positivity in the camp.
“At the time it was really disappointing,” he added.
“Ultimately someone lost their job because of how we performed as players on the field.
“But there were a lot of things out of James’s reach that he couldn’t really help.
“We had a lot of injuries and a lot of players not performing well.
“But Brian came in probably at the right time, and he’s had a bit of time to get ready for the Qualifiers.
“Results have turned round, performances definitely have, and individual performances have really improved as well.
“It’s been a long build-up to the Qualifiers, we’ve known that we were going to be there for quite a while now, and we’re really looking forward to ripping in in these games.”