Former Australian Test star Anthony Tupou, signed from Cronulla Sharks on a two-year contract, is set to make his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats debut in tomorrow’s (Sunday) pre-season game at Featherstone Rovers.
Wakefield’s squad also includes Ben Shulver who is set for his first appearance since he rejoined the Wildcats last October after a short spell in Australia.
Centre Misi Taulapapa, signed from Sheffield Eagles, will make his Featherstone debut.
Tim Spears and Ian Hardman return after missing Featherstone’s first pre-season game at Castleford through injury.
Featherstone Rovers: Johnson, Taulapapa, Thackeray, Griffin, Cooper, Cording, Ormandroyd, Roche, Snitch, Davies, Hardman, Milner, Spears, Wildie, Bostock, Joynt, Day, Turner, Hill, Channing, Tagg.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Crowther, England, Gibson, Hall, Howarth, Johnstone, Jowitt, Lyne, Molloy, Sio, Shulver, Tansey, A Tupou, Walker, Walton, Yates.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Wildcats will aim to build on their impressive 14-6 victory at treble-winners Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day.
Wakefield coach Brian Smith said: “It is important for us to do as well as we possibly can in our pre-season games.
“The guys got quite a bit of confidence out of the win at Leeds.
“They had a pretty fair side out and to concede only one try in 80 minutes of rugby league is a good effort, so it was very much a confidence-booster for our guys.”
A second-string Featherstone lineup drew with amateur neighbours Featherstone Lions last Sunday, a week after a stronger team were beaten 42-28 at Castleford Tigers.
Rovers trailed 36-0 and 42-6 at the Jungle and Smith – whose team use Rovers’ training facilities – said: “We saw that they fought back hard in that one.
“We talk to them and we know they were pretty pleased with the way they finished that game, in particular. We will be on our toes; we don’t want to be embarrassed in pre-season games, or any game.
“The things we did so encouragingly against Leeds we want to see if we can do them again. We want to build that consistency we didn’t have last season.”
Rovers coach Jon Sharp is looking for his team to carry on from where they left off against Castleford. He said: “For 40 minutes we played pretty well, against a really good team.
“We’ve got a couple of blokes coming back with more experience, so our expectation is a bit higher than maybe it was against Castleford.
“The momentum from that second half should stand us in good stead. In the first half we showed them too much respect.
“We hung off them and gave them a bit too much time. We have to start better this week.
“The whole point is to give us an indication of where we want to get to.
“We didn’t want a false dawn by high scores against lesser opposition, we wanted to test ourselves.”