It was a turbulent year at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in 2015.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats got off to a perfect start in Super League with two wins from as many games but, like many seasons in the past, they dropped off and ended up becoming the basement side of the top tier.
Compounding the Wildcats’ misery further, they then had to contend with a fight for survival in the Qualifiers where four confident Kingstone Press Championship sides came to meet Super League’s bottom four.
But there’s so much more to that story than meets the eye. Wakefield had suspended arguably two of their most naturally talented players, Kevin Locke and Tim Smith, after ‘that’ video of the pair came to light.
It showed real bottle and character to cut ties with Locke and Smith when other teams in the same situation may have forgiven them.
Common sense prevailed meaning Locke and Smith never played in a Wildcats shirt following their suspension, and the club got their just deserts with Super League survival.
Now we’re in 2016 and coach Smith has recruited some good players to play for the West Yorkshire club.
Twelve players have made their way to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium. Some from fellow Super League clubs and the divisions below, others from overseas.
There’s a good mix and it bodes well. Anthony England didn’t set the world alight at Warrington so he’ll be looking to make amends at the Wildcats in 2016.
Overseas signings include utility back Bill Tupou and forwards Anthony Tupou and Tinirau Arona. It’s hard to judge how players from abroad will do but the talent they have isn’t to be questioned, it’s just a case of settling in.
Wakefield fans will be sick to their back teeth of seeing their team predicted as the bottom club in Super League but the squad that Smith has to choose from is definitely capable of proving those critics wrong.
The club will be confident in their ability, more so after overcoming such a high intensity battle like the Million Pound Game. It will be something they won’t want to be taking part in for quite some time yet.
Making their home ground a fortress will be key if they’re not to be part of the Qualifiers in the summer.
For Wakefield, this season has got to be about looking up rather than looking over their shoulder.