PROP Andy Raleigh believes Wakefield Trinity Wildcats aren't too far off where they need to be performance-wise - and hopes everything clicks into place against his former club Huddersfield Giants tomorrow (kick-off 3.30pm).
The 30-year-old arrived at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in the close season after spending seven years with the Giants and will come up against his former club for the first time in the red, white and blue.
He knows all about the Huddersfield threat more than most and is anticipating a tough game against his former employers, but believes Wakefield are going in the right direction on the pitch despite losing all three matches since their season-opening win at Widnes Vikings.
"I think it's going to be a good game, I think it's going to be a tough game without a doubt because they're in some good form," he said.
"They've got players across the park who are world class. Being there seven years I know they're very well drilled and they're going to be coming here to have another good game. So it's going to be a tough game but I'm looking forward to it."
He continued: "A lot of top sides this year haven't managed it [beating Huddersfield]. If we can play our game, you can spend a lot of time looking at the video. What can Danny Brough do with his kicking, what can Kev Brown do with his ball playing. Yes there's a lot of aspects that you've got to worry about but if you spend your time worrying too much about them you forget about yourselves. If we do what we've been doing recently, we've not been far off. Losing by four points last week we think we played pretty well.
"I'm not a massive stat fan but by all accounts we've done very well on the stats. We've been winning the metres and defensive wins in tackles and things like that, we've been going pretty well so we're going in the right direction. If we stick with things like that and get our systems right and stick to our systems then we're in with a chance."
There will be plenty of familiar faces in both sides. Players such as Raleigh, Kyle Wood and Danny Kirmond have made the switch from the Giants to the Wildcats while Danny Brough, Aaron Murphy and Dale Ferguson are amongst the names who've moved the other way.
Raleigh believes it'll add some extra edge to what's already a big local derby and the banter has been flowing in the build-up.
He said: "I think a lot of the lads know each other, it's a small world is rugby league so there's a bit of banter going on.
"Players text message and maybe a bit on Twitter as well so it adds a little bit of spice to it. In the scrums it won't stop. I'm sure there'll be some banter in the scrums, I can't say much for people out wide but in the scrums there will be."
Raleigh was part of the Huddersfield side that fell to a shock 13-10 defeat at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium last season - and he hope history can repeat itself tomorrow.
"I remember we'd had tough training going into it," he said.
"I don't know if it was a game that was considered to be a surefire win and it turned out that it wasn't, we were kicked to death in the game. It was poor conditions but we got comprehensively beaten here so hopefully we're looking for another Wakefield win here and it'd be nice to get that."
See this week's Wakefield Express Sport for all the latest sports news from around the district.