Despite last season’s great escape, it looks like Wakefield will be in for another tough year in 2007, under the leadership of the experienced John Kear.
Kear’s man-management skills will be put to the test in arguably the weakest of the twelve Super League squads.
Their most influential player – David Solomona – has gone, but replacing him is a newly found team spirit, with players now apparently working for each other, rather than relying on a big name player.
Part of the deal that saw Solomona go to Bradford, was the move of Brett Ferres to Wakefield, and he could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.
However, Solomona isn’t the only player to leave Belle Vue over the winter. Influential prop forward Michael Korkidas has gone to Salford, fellow front rower Darrell Griffin to Huddersfield and Monty Betham announced his shock retirement just before Christmas.
Although Kear has recruited replacements for those on the outgoing list, a number are yet to fulfil their potential in the top flight. Ricky Bibey and Richard Moore get another chance at the Super League dream and, together with Ferres, they are joined in a new look pack by Danny Sculthorpe and Danny Lima, both with plenty of Super League experience between them.
Other than that, the recruitment of Matt Blaymire, Peter Fox, Luke George and Jason Golden, all virtually untried at Super League level, will hardly send shivers down the spines of opponents. A lot will depend on how Jason Demetriou can lead his troops, and whether the mouth-watering half back partnership of Jamie Rooney and Ben Jeffries can provide the consistency to keep Wakefield away from the foot of the table.
Looking at their recruitment and final squad, it’s hard to see how Wakefield won’t be involved in a relegation dogfight. It’s sad to say, but they will have overachieved should they survive for Super League XIII.