Key Wakefield Trinity figures on what future holds for club after Super League relegation

MARK APPLEGARTH believes he’s the man to lead Wakefield’s attempt to recover from relegation and return to the top flight – but he accepts the club may go down another coaching route.

Trinity finally fell through the trapdoor as they lost 20-19 on golden point at Leigh on Friday – their 22nd league defeat of a dismal campaign that has featured only four victories.

Wakefield have been in Super League for 25 straight seasons, winning promotion with a 1998 First Division Grand Final win over neighbours Featherstone, who could be team to take their place.

With redevelopment work at their Be Well Support Stadium (Belle Vue) nearing completion, Chairman John Minards insists the club is well placed to claim a Super League berth under IMG’s club-grading system, which comes into effect the season after next.

“I’ve been intimately involved in working through what the grading criteria mean and where we stand,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“The ultimate objective is to get to 15 points (Category A) and establish a permanent place in Super League, subject to retaining 15 points.

“I do believe that’s attainable for our club but there are many variables on that.

“In the short term, it seems like what we’ll need to be is somewhere close to 15 in order to be one of the better Category B clubs, and that’s something that I’m optimistic about.”

On-field performances count for 25 percent of the grade, and former player, head of youth, Reserve team chief and assistant coach Applegarth, who replaced Willie Poching last September after Wakefield staved off the threat of relegation with a late upturn in results, remains confident in his own ability.

“From my personal point of view, I think I am the man to take this club into a new era,” said the 38-year-old.

“I’ve dealt with some pretty tricky stuff this year and would like to think I’ve kept a level head about everything – but sometimes things aren’t for you to decide.

“All I can focus on is giving my advice to the board on where we need to improve – myself, the team and club – so that we can progress forward.”

Applegarth added: “Relegation hurts. It’s a blow to the city in terms of not having a premier sporting team.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to aspire to get back there in twelve months’ time when this new grading comes.”

With crowd figures and fan engagement another key area, departing chief executive Michael Carter has called for supporters to stay loyal.

“We need to build a team around those lads who played against Leigh and get the fans to stick with us, because on the IMG route back to Super League, fandom is a massive part,” said Carter.

“We have 18 or 19 players committed for next year. Some will fall by the wayside but that’s the nature of the sport we are in.

“We are determined to build a side that will make Wakefield proud next year and bounce back at the first time of asking.

“Our hardcore, you have to stick with us. There will be announcements aplenty over the next couple of weeks.”