Wakefield coach Mark Applegarth to hand out two debuts against Leigh

Drew Darbyshire
Mark Applegarth Wakefield Trinity SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Wakefield coach Mark Applegarth will give youngsters Oli Pratt and Dane Windrow their Trinity debuts in tonight’s Challenge Cup clash with Leigh.

Outside-back Pratt has spent time on loan in the Championship with York this season, scoring one try in two games.

Windrow, meanwhile, has played one game on loan for Championship club Newcastle in 2023. He has previously enjoyed time on loan at Oldham and Dewsbury.

Speaking in his press conference on Thursday, Trinity boss Mark Applegarth confirmed the young duo will play against Leigh on Friday night.

He said: “Pratty is in line to play. He is another exciting talent.

“We signed Pratty when he was 14 so I’m really excited to see Pratty over the next few yeas and I think Wakefield Trinity fans should be as well.

“He is a very athletic centre with plenty of pace. It has just been about waiting for the right time to give him a taste of first team rugby.

“We thank York for giving him time in the Championship to develop.

“Tomorrow night (Friday) just seems the right time to give him some first team rugby and I can’t wait to see him out on that field. He is going to be an exciting player over the next two or three years, for sure.”

Dane Windrow a ‘top level back-rower’ in the making

Windrow is expected to fill the void left by the injured Matty Ashurst (finger) in the back-row against Leigh.

Applegarth said: “Dane’s been working patiently behind the scenes and with Tash’s (Ashurst) finger injury, I’m going to play Dane as well. Both players will be making their debuts.

“Dane has got all the attributes to be a top level back-row forward, his leg speed explosiveness is ridiculous.

“In training he takes some handling but we’ve just got to patient with Dane and when the penny drops with him and he believes in himself, he’s a handful for anyone, so I’m just excited to see how they go out there and express themselves.

“There’s no pressure on them whatsoever, I just want them to go out there and enjoy their rugby.”

Mark Applegarth previews Leigh cup tie

Trinity lost 32-0 against Leigh in Super League a month ago, and Applegarth knows they need to be at their best if they are to progress through to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

He said: “Leigh are a great attacking team. They’ve obviously recruited very well coming in to Super League.

“They’ve got (John) Asiata in the middle who is obviously a handful and controls the middle third. They’ve got (Lachlan) Lam and (Ben) Reynolds on the back of it and (Gareth) O’Brien, so they’ve got some real strike out there in terms of the pivots.

“Last time we played them, I thought in the first half we really had them pinned to their own line but we just didn’t do anything with that pressure which got frustrating for our lads and we came undone in the second half.

“We just talked about learning our lessons from that and pulling a few more triggers if we get the same field position tomorrow night.

“I expect us to be a few more points up on the board but there’s no hiding away from the fact, I’ll keep on stressing it, as head coach I take responsibility but I want us to start playing a bit more freely and creatively.”

Wakefield: Taufua, Lineham, Gaskell, Lino, Battye, Hood, Whitbread, Pitts, Crowther, Kay, Bowden, Atoni, Kershaw, Proctor, Smith, Bowes, Eseh, Windrow, Law, Pratt, Dagger.

Leigh: Hardaker, Briscoe, Chamberlain, Leutele, Charnley, Mellor, Lam, Amone, Ipape, Mulhern, Asiata, Reynolds, Holmes, O’Brien, Davis, Nisbet, Gannon, O’Donnell, Wilde, Seumanufagai, Halton.

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