Wakefield boss refuses to buy into Luke Gale against Hull narrative

Josh McAllister
Luke Gale, SWPix.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Wakefield boss Mark Applegarth refuses to buy into the narrative of Luke Gale potentially facing his former club, admitting Morgan Smith has given him a selection headache ahead of the fixture against Hull. 

Gale, now 34, captained his former side during his only season at the MKM Stadium, scoring twice in 20 appearances.

He left the Black & Whites at the conclusion of last year, with Brett Hodgson also leaving following two disappointing seasons in charge.

Ex-England international Gale joined Wakefield in April on a deal until the end of 2024, and is eagerly awaiting to make his return to Super League.

He was forced to watch on as Wakefield fell to a 34-12 defeat to Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, although it was a promising display from the Super League strugglers, having locked scores at 12-12 until Kevin Proctor’s red card.

“It would have a bit of extra meaning, wouldn’t it? But it’s a bigger game than Luke Gale and Hull,” Applegarth said on Thursday’s game.

“It’s about the team and he’d be the first to put his hand up and say that, it’s team first mentality.

“We’ll do what’s right for the team and not just that story with Luke Gale playing against his old club and things like that.”

Mark Applegarth welcomes selection headaches

The Wakefield head coach says he was impressed by half-back Smith’s reaction against Warrington, a try-scorer in the 32-18 defeat in a positive display.

Smith has made nine appearances so far in 2023, with his first try of the year coming against Daryl Powell’s side.

“To be honest with you, I was really happy with Morgan Smith. I thought he responded really well to the challenges that we set him after that Leigh game,” Applegarth said.

“He’s definitely given us a headache. I’ve always said that if you do your job as we say to do, it’s your shirt to lose and Morgan has certainly done that.

“We’ll wait and see for Thursday. But it’s most definitely given me a good headache has that one.”

“Luke Gale will have a big part to play for Wakefield Trinity”

Gale returns to the top flight after nine appearances for Keighley in the Championship, having signed with Rhys Lovegrove’s side on a one-year deal last December.

Applegarth always admitted that it would take some time for the 2017 Man of Steel winner to get fully back into the swing of a full time environment.

The Wakefield coach continued: “We’re very conscience that we train on a 4G service at Dewsbury and Galey had been coming from a bit heavier surface at Keighley. And being a bit older, the training intensity has obviously ramped up a bit for him as well.

“It was just making sure that we didn’t rush him back and increase that spike in injury.

“He’s been great for the group, he’s been training hard and has obviously been looking after himself.

“Luke Gale will have a big part to play for Wakefield Trinity.

“Morgan Smith did exactly what I asked of him and I was really happy with how he did in that game and I thought he scored a lovely well-deserved try supporting that break from Jai [Whitbread].

“It’s one of them as a coach, you pick on performance and if I’m going off that, you might see Morgan and Mason out there. But you never know, it might be Luke who is out there as well, we’ll see what we go with on Thursday.”

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