Wakefield chairman defends teething problems on “first-class” playing surface
Wakefield chairman John Minards has defended his club’s controversial pitch after officials were forced to inspect Belle Vue ahead of their home fixture with Huddersfield.
The hybrid pitch passed its inspection on Wednesday, having inflicted infections to seven Catalans players following the opening round of action.
Dragons head coach Steve McNamara admitted his side suffered the ‘worst week ever’ through sickness and infections following their 38-24 victory at Wakefield. His side still managed to claim a 14-6 victory in Round Two at home against Leigh though, despite the disruptions.
And while Minards accepts there’s still plenty of improvement in the pitch, the chairman believes the club will soon possess a ‘first-class’ playing surface, another step in the redevelopment of the Be Well Support Stadium.
“It is still in its first year, but we’re confident that what we’ve put down here will be a first-class playing surface that is among the best in the game,” Minards said.
“The pitch only went down in September and it doesn’t grow much during the winter months. Clearly we are not quite where we want to be at the moment, but it will continue to improve.”
Huddersfield coach on Wakefield pitch concerns
Huddersfield boss Ian Watson insisted his side couldn’t afford to see the game postponed, having found themselves already a week behind due to St Helens’ involvement in the World Club Challenge.
The 46-year-old coach admitted his side train on the same type of surface during the week at Siddal, and will be better prepared than Catalans for the hybrid pitch.
“We needed to get the game on,” Watson said. “We’re already a week behind everyone else so another game off would have been a real kick in the teeth.
“I think all this could have been avoided with a little bit more proper planning. It looks like it’s been a bit over-used since it was put down and not allowed the grass to knit.
“But we train on surfaces like this at Siddal all the time so hopefully that experience will help us and we’ve got a good medical team who’ve got things in place to deal with anything that arises.”
Watson will also offer the option to players to wear skins under their kit in order to prevent any injuries.
“It (wearing skins) is something we’re going to put to the players tomorrow and some might feel more confident wearing them,” he explained.
“But we’re just happy the game’s on so we can build on some of the good stuff we did last week.”
READ MORE: Ian Watson reacts to Wakefield’s pitch inspection drama and reveals preparations for hybrid surface