Wakefield Trinity ‘s new Recruitment and Salary Cap Manager Steve Mills says the club is looking across the globe as they look to assemble a squad that can guide the club to Championship success.
Mills has joined Wakefield along with Daryl Powell in what Mills believes is a project worth getting excited about. It’s a new role for Mills, who has more than a decade of experience as an analyst at various clubs such as Huddersfield Giants, Leigh Leopards and Castleford Tigers. Working with Powell once again, his new role will see him in charge of signing off deals for players, rather than simply identifying them.
‘It’s more of a senior role for me,’ Mills told Rugby League Live. ‘I’ve played a part in the recruitment process but it’s always been a smaller part. I’m delighted Daryl and Matt (Ellis) have trusted me with the role.’
‘Previously I played a part in identifying players through data and identification but now it will go straight through to the negotiating and signing off the deals. Like any job, there are always certain aspects you get a kick from and the recruitment area is one of them, when you’ve identified a player and they do a job. I’ll still be heavily hands-on with the analysis stuff and trying to find some of those diamonds in the rough.’
The immediate job at hand is assembling a squad at relatively short notice. Relegation has left Mills with the challenge of not only having to go through the process of renegotiating contracts with existing players but also identifying new targets at a time when most players have already secured their futures.
However, research over several years will be used to ensure players are found, with Mills confirming there was a healthy budget to work with. ‘It’s a little bit of a challenge, you’re rushed for time but we’re taking it slowly. The foundations are in place from the previous coaching staff who deserve tribute for keeping the lads around they did. The goal is to build a squad that can take us straight back to Super League and suits the Daryl Powell way too.’
‘A lot of time and effort has gone into scouting around the world. We have data points on every player in Super League, NRL, Queensland Cup and New South Wales Cup. We’re monitoring that consistently. Qualification is a big thing for players overseas but there are players out there who can add value, particularly late bloomers.’
‘But there are also players in Super League who can go unnoticed but the coach loves them, they can be a perfect asset. “Next year we want some senior boys to lead us through and they’ve been retained.’
‘What we want to inject is some young players hungry to succeed and make a statement, who can take us back into Super League with a vengeance. We haven’t got an exact squad number but we have a guide we’re going after. You’d rather have players that are right for your club than a squad of 35 that might not be right for the coach. But the budget will be one of, if not the strongest in the Championship.’
Wakefield will take inspiration from the approach of Leigh Leopards, who assembled a Super League-ready squad while in the second tier, which allowed them to hit the ground running upon their return to the top flight and win the Challenge Cup.
‘Leigh are a perfect example. They had a clear plan and a clear structure during that 2022 season. They added quality throughout the season that carried them through and made some great additions after that.’
Dual-registration is another potential option the club will explore, though Mills is keen to ensure the club has a squad capable of handling the rigours of a season in its own right.
‘There’s nothing concrete at the minute. It’s early stages, we’re only a couple of days into the takeover. But we’re planning on holding our own too. Dual-registration can be great but you could have six players available one week and none the next, so you’ve got to be able to compete without relying on it.’