(VIDEO) Coaching rivals raise a glass to upsetting the odds in new format

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YOU can not imagine too many rival coaches in any sport popping out for a pint with each other days before their sides meet.

However, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats chief James Webster and Chris Chester, his opposite number at Hull KR, did just that earlier this week.

Wakefield Wildcats Craig Hall, being held back by Castleford Tigers Ryan Boyle, and Adam Milner.

Wakefield Wildcats Craig Hall, being held back by Castleford Tigers Ryan Boyle, and Adam Milner.

It should be no great surprise; they have a lot of history as former Rovers team-mates and, having both taken on their first head coach role at unfashionable clubs around the same time last year, there is a lot of symmetry in their current situations, too.

Wakefield, who created the shock of Super League’s opening round by winning at Castleford Tigers on Sunday, entertain their East Yorkshire opponents tomorrow seeking a swift double.

Webster said: “I went and had a beer with Chezzie the other night. I was trying to get his team but I couldn’t slip it out of him!

“We played together at Rovers in 2007 and ’08. He’s a really good bloke, I’ve known him for a long time, he was a good player and has done a good job with Hull KR.

“He’s been able to recruit really well, I think he’s on the right path for what he’s trying to achieve there and I think he will do well.”

Both had retired early as players – each aged just 30 – with Webster starting his coaching pathway as assistant to Richard Agar at Hull FC in 2010 and Chester two years earlier due to an unfortunate neck injury.

Webster, having moved with Agar to Wakefield ahead of 2012, was promoted from Trinity assistant to replace him last June with Chester doing the same at Hull KR the following month after Craig Sandercock’s sacking.

“Head coaches speak regularly and obviously it’s easier to speak with people you already know,” added the Australian.

“I suppose he’s in a similar situation as we’ve been in that he’s had massive changes at the club.

“Some of those were forced on him with what people were doing within the club and some were his choice to get rid of people.

“It’s always good to have a sounding board off someone else to find out what they think, what they think is right and to get information. I wouldn’t say I gave him any advice when he took over or vice versa but just general chat.

“He’s from Wakefield, too, and supported them as a kid.

“He used to come here all the time to watch Wakefield and still lives down the road from here.

“I still live in Hull and we were saying if I stay over once a week we could just swap houses!

“He could be 10 minutes from training and I could be 10 minutes from here. We might have to look at that. I don’t think our wives would be too keen though!”

Given Super League’s new structure, and essentially the need for points before the competitions split in July, various members of Hull KR’s camp have labelled tomorrow’s game already as a “must-win” after they lost their opener 40-30 to Leeds Rhinos.

Webster, who as a livewire scrum-half helped Rovers earn promotion in 2006 and then retain their top-flight status, is unmoved and said: “I think that’s just what every team thinks when they come to Wakefield.

“They expect to win. That’s the attitude and mind-set that seems to be out there – Wakefield are tipped to come bottom so you need to win those games.

“With a short format, it’s probably the press who are emphasising you have to start well. Hull KR won’t want to go none from two to start the year and then catch teams up over 23 rounds.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win game for them as they are a good team. Obviously, they played well against Leeds and we’re going to have to be good to beat them.”

Wakefield full-back Craig Hall, who scored 38 tries in 77 league games for Hull KR over the last four years before switching last autumn, gets a quick chance to take on his former club.

Webster said: “He’s a Hull kid through and through. His dad played for Hull KR and he’s been a lifelong Hull KR fan.”

Former Salford second rower Matty Ashurst is set to make his Wakefield debut after missing their opening game through injury. Former Leeds prop Ryan Bailey, who has recovered from an Achilles injury, and French hooker John Boudebza are set to make their debuts for Hull KR, but James Donaldson (dislocated thumb) is out.

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