The sacking of Phil Veivers could see an upturn in form from Salford City Reds when they visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3.30pm), according to Wakefield Wildcats head coach Richard Agar.
Veivers was dismissed from his role as Reds head coach last weekend after seeing his men to just one win from their opening five Super League matches - and a place at the bottom of the table.
Agar believes the decision was a harsh one on the Australian, but is wary it could prompt a reaction from the Reds, led by caretaker head coach Alan Hunte in his hometown this weekend.
“When anybody changes a coach you usually see a reaction or a little spurt in form,” said Agar. “The players feel a little bit guilty about what’s gone on.
“I’m not sure what more they would have expected of Phil. The statements from the club about results speak for themselves, I think they’re kidding a little bit really.
“If a new management wants to change a coach I think that’s the new management and the owner’s prerogative. I think everybody respects and understands that if they want their own people in they’ll go out and do that. If they’re buying the club and paying the money they’re more than entitled to do that.
“It’s hard on the coach that loses his job, but I think to start putting it to results when, come the middle of January I don’t even know if Phil maybe had a team or whether he was starting the season.
“This is a tough competition to go into with so much uncertainty and so little resource at your disposal. I don’t think there’s a coach in the game that won’t fee really put out for Phil and maybe his players feel like that as well.”
Wakefield-born Hunte will lead Salford on Sunday until the Reds name a new permanent head coach, and he’ll be assisted by Sean Long, someone Agar knows will get Sunday’s visitors well prepared for the task at hand.
“What I do know is they’ve got a very smart operator in Sean Long working in there as a rugby league tactician and technician,” he said.
“He’s very good. I know that he’ll have them prepared, I’m not sure if he’ll be solely preparing the team or whether Alan Hunte will be but it’s safe to say Sean will make sure he has all the bases covered and he’ll rise to the challenge of what he’s got to do because that’s the type of character he is.
“So I’m preparing for them to come well prepared. They’ve got some signs of promise that we’ve seen. I’m not sure the scoreline necessarily reflected the game last week when they played London.
“We’re expecting a tough game. We’ve had two tough games and come out marginally on the wrong side in the last few minutes in a very tough way for the last two weeks so for us we need to make sure emotionally we show the right responses ourselves and make sure the toughness in which we’ve played over the last two weeks we can back that up again.”
Agar has welcomed Reece Lyne back into his 19-man squad following a pectoral injury but Andy Raleigh misses out with a knee injury and skipper Danny Kirmond also remains sidelined.
Wildcats 19-man squad: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T Smith, Aiton, Lauitiiti, Washbrook, Wood, Amor, Wilkes, Mariano, Trout, Mellars, Lyne, Annakin.
Salford 19-man squad: Ashurst, Boyle, Broughton, Dixon, Evalds, Fagues, Foran, Gibson, Gleeson, Godwin, Griffin, James, Jewitt, Mauro, McPherson, Murphy, Neal, Owen, Sneyd.