It has been a good week for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats with the arrival of their marque signing quickly followed by positive news on the Super League club’s stadium plans.
Given the history of previous letdowns with regards new ground ideas, no Trinity fan is foolhardy enough to get too excited until they actually see the side in action at any new home.
But the very fact that the Secretary of State yesterday rubber-stamped plans for the proposed stadium at Newmarket is perhaps the clearest sign yet that the West Yorkshire club are nearing their long-desired endgame.
New South Wales State of Origin prop Justin Poore took part in his first training session on Tuesday, just hours after flying into the country, and he is the sort of high calibre player Wakefield will hope to recruit more frequently on the back of the greater revenue new stadiums so traditionally bring.
All in all, there is plenty of reason for cheer for Wildcats chief executive James Elston and chairman Andrew Glover.
The pair have always been confident of this significant thumbs-up but the confirmation was greatly received.
“It was a bit of a surprise actually,” Elston told the Yorkshire Post.
“We weren’t actually expecting it (yesterday) so it was very pleasant to find this out.
“There’s been a lot of hard work gone in and it’s hard to believe that it’s a year ago that we sat through a public inquiry for two-and-a-half weeks.
“It’s really good news, not just for the club but more so the whole district as it’s going to bring better facilities for them all,” added Elston.
The development had outline planning permission provisionally approved in June following that public inquiry into the development.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said then he was “minded” to approve Yorkcourt Properties’ plans but only if certain planning conditions were in place and those have now been met.
The stadium at junction 30 of the M62 is expected to be complete in time for Wildcats to take their place as anchor tenants at the beginning of the 2015 season and will be owned by the Wakefield & District Community Trust.
It is planned to be built as part of a 100-acre business park which is set to create 2,000 jobs with Yorkcourt Properties confirmed as the developers.
“If we wanted to, we could start building it now but we’re probably going to have 12 months pulling everything together,” added Elston.
“We envisage it being February 2014 when we start and then it’s a 52- to 56-week build ready for 2015.
“One of the conditions from the Secretary of State granting permission for the whole site was that the developer signed an agreement to develop the stadium and it is now legally bound to do that.
“The bits we’re working on now are making sure it’s a sustainable stadium which funds itself and is not a white elephant in any way.”
The site will also include warehouses, a multi-use games area, a restaurant and 120-bedroom hotel.
Wakefield had been told by the RFL that they needed to move to a new stadium to stand any chance of securing another Super League licence when they are next awarded in 2014.
They are clearly now on course for that and Elston believes the move will be a huge fillip for the future of Trinity.
“There has been a lot going on behind the scenes since the planning permission was provisionally passed in June,” he added.
“With this being rubber stamped by the Secretary of State we’re now well placed to take that on further and create a really secure future for this club.”
Wakefield are bidding to carry the momentum from last season’s memorable finish into the 2013 campaign.
Richard Agar’s squad won seven games on the bounce to force their way into the play-offs where they eventually came unstuck against champions Leeds Rhinos.
“We’d love to follow on from that last year,” conceded Elston.
“When you look at the league, you can’t see the seven that finished as the top seven changing that much.
“I think we’re in there with quite a few clubs battling for that eighth spot again.
“If we can achieve that again, we’d be more than happy.
“Justin is a great signing and it’s great to see him here ready to go for the Boxing Day game against Leeds.
“This is just a really exciting point in the club’s history and everyone associated with the club can look forward with real optimism.”
Trinity have reported a notable increase in their season ticket sales as fans buy into the positive steps being fostered throughout the club from Glover and Elston through to Agar and his playing squad.
“When you look at the licencing system, to earn an A grade licence you have to have 5,000 members,” added Elston.
“At the moment, we’ve got 4,500 and it was just over 3,000 this time last year so we’re in real good health.
“Crowds were up 25 per cent last year so hopefully we can improve on that to the point where we might yet have some sell-outs.”
Poore, meanwhile, is desperate to make an impact of his own.
At 27, the signing from Paramatta Eels surprised many by his decision to move to Wildcats.
“In Australia I got asked why I left so early but I needed a change, “ he said.
“A change is as good as a holiday and I feel I had the best year of my career last year and we ran last.
“I played better last year than when I did when I was playing State of Origin in 2009.
“I feel like I can get better, offer the team a lot and I’m looking forward to ripping in.
“I had a tough time in deciding what I was going to do but I had the opportunity to come here and I honestly jumped at it.
“My dad is from over here so that helped too.”
Elston confirmed Agar is looking for one more significant signing in readiness for the start of next season, when Wakefield kick off at Bradford Bulls on February 3.
Goulding follows in dad’s footsteps
Wakefield have completed the signing of scrum-half Bobbie Goulding Jnr on a one-year deal.
The son of the ex-Leeds, Wigan, Wakefield and Great Britain No 7 by the same name, Goulding joins after impressing on trial.
He was a key member of Warrington’s Under-20s Grand Final winning side last term but is now hoping to emulate his famous father.
“I’m really looking forward to getting my chance and proving myself at the highest level which is Super League,” said Goulding.
“I had a couple of options, even from rugby union as well, but my loyalties are with rugby league.
“I’ve wanted to play for Wakefield as when I was growing up my dad was here and everything about the club seems dead positive.”