Wakefield boss Mark Applegarth says he was moments away from giving Kevin Proctor a breather before the back-rower saw red in 32-18 defeat to Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Proctor, 34, was sent off for a high shot on opposition full-back Josh Thewlis in the second half, with the scores locked in at 12-12.
Warrington skipper Stefan Ratchford converted the two points on offer for a 14-12 lead, before tries from George Williams and a brace from Matty Ashton.
Liam Kay had been assisted from the field early in the first half with a ‘pretty grim’ injury according to Applegarth, only to be stitched up and ready to return to the action.
However, it came moments too late as Proctor saw red in a rollercoaster start to his Super League career.
“We watched it back on replay, I don’t think there was any malice in it in terms of going to hurt him,” Applegarth said.
“He has slipped up and caught him high. If I’m honest, I don’t think there are any qualms from us on that.
“It was one of them, he went to shut him down and he’s stepped back and at those speeds and when you’re a little bit tired, I don’t think Kevin has done it with any malice.
“It’s more a of a mistimed hit and hopefully everyone is alright and it’s nothing too serious on anyone.”
Revealing his interchange plans with winger Kay that came moments too late, Applegarth continued: “We were going to put him [Kay] on for Kevin, as ironic as that was.
“He had a big open wound that needed stitching, it was pretty grim if I’m honest with you, but he put his hand up and said he’s not feeling the pain and wanted to go back on.
“Once that was stitched back up, it was just a case of getting that interchange right.
“The plan was to take Kevin off and move Kelepi [Tanginoa] back into the back-row and obviously put Liam on the wing. But when that red card came, we couldn’t afford to do that change.
“I thought Kevin, up until his red, was having his best game of the year. He’s worked hard in getting his fitness back after his hamstring injury and he showed his quality tonight.
“But unfortunately he’s mistimed that tackle and that will probably overshadow what was up until then a pretty solid performance from him.”
Mark Applegarth proud of effort
After Warrington’s quick start to the game that saw Josh Thewlis cross twice for a 12-0 score, Wakefield fought back through Morgan Smith and Tanginoa to lock the scores at the break.
And it was an even contest into the second half before the crucial red card on the 52nd minute, with further tries from Williams and Ashton for a 32-18 result, with Ratchford kicking 100% from the boot.
“I’m really proud, if I’m honest,” the Wakefield boss continued.
“I thought Warrington got off to a fast start, obviously going 12-0 up. I thought our lads fought their way back into it.
“As the scoreline suggested, it was an even game going into half-time. I think the pivotal moment was obviously that red card that came.
“You play a team of the quality that Warrington have with 12, it’s very rare that you’re going to come away with victories, even in best of circumstances.
“A really gutsy and proud effort from our our lads. I just said in there, I struggle to criticise anyone with the way they kept on fighting until the end.
“As a coach, proud of the effort that they’ve shown under difficult circumstances.
“I don’t think we’re that far away from our first win if we carry on performing as we did tonight.”