Warrington assistant coach Richard Agar has warned his players to not take the upcoming Super 8s fixtures lightly, or risk missing out on a spot in the Challenge Cup final.
The Wolves would have gone top of Super League last week, but a 20-18 result allowed Wigan to leapfrog them into second, while they remain one point adrift of current leaders and Challenge Cup opponents Hull FC.
They get a chance to bounce back from their recent defeat on Sunday against Agar’s former club, Wakefield, and he has put down a marker for the squad.
“We’ve spoken about the importance of keeping our form high for both competitions, not just Wembley,” he told TotalRL.
“We’re all fit and well predominantly and we had a loss last week so we made it clear to the players that spots are there to be played for. That said however, we’ll be going around pretty similar this week and everyone will get another chance. I think they need to heed the warning though that there’s some real competition in places.
“It should bring the best out of the players in first and reserve grade. Reserves will play this week and it will be a really strong reserve team, so they need to be ready because it’s a chance for those blokes to impress. We don’t envisage too many changes this week to be honest – Ryan Bailey is the only one that’s in a race against the clock to get in contention.”
Despite issuing a warning to the squad, Agar isn’t overly concerned about their recent defeat to St Helens, and knows that their fixture against Wakefield is a good opportunity to reassert their credentials.
“A couple of times this year we’ve looked at some missed opportunities but there’s still plenty of time to go. Everyone in the top four or five have to play each other so this week is important for us.
“I think Wakefield have had a couple of tough results to take, but they’ve had some good results, kept people fit before being whacked with it all at once really in terms of injuries. Being a former Wakefield coach I’ve seen it before; it can be a graveyard for teams who turn up with the wrong attitude. If you aren’t quite doing the right thing, they’ll find you out. Going to Belle Vue is always a danger and your focus needs to be right on the money when you go there.”
Meanwhile, Agar also confirmed that Tom Lineham and Kevin Penny have been lined up play reserve grade this week.
“Tom and Kevin are two that get a chance this week. We’re performance-driven here and both guys know that in a couple of games they didn’t come up with what they wanted, and Toby has grabbed the chance with both hands.”